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WINTER 1995 





HIVER 1995 

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Winter / hiver 1995 (date of issue: January 1996) 

Canadian Publication Sales Agreement No. 0590762 ISSN 0034^29X 

New Series, Vol. XIX, No. 1 NouveUe Série, Vol. XIX, No 1 

Old Series, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 1995 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXXI, No 1 





The Sexual Identity of Moll Cutpurse in Dekker and Middleton's The 

Roaring Girl and in London 

by Susan E. Krantz 


Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parliez": le langage du geste chez 

Rabelais et Montaigne 

par Guylaine Fontaine 


Celebrations Held in Siena during the Government of the Nine 
by Gordon Moran and Michael Mallory 


Figuriing Justice: Ideology and the Discourse of Colonialism in Book V of 
The Faerie Queene and A View of the Present State of Ireland 

by Walter S. H. Lim 


John O'Malley. The First Jesuits 

reviewed by Nicholas Terpstra 


Galileo Galilei. Le messager des étoiles 

recensé par Louis Valcke 


Martin Wamke. The Court Artist: On the Ancestry of the Modem Artist; 
David Howarth, ed. Art and Patronage in the Caroline Court 

reviewed by Use E. Friesen 

Camille Wells Slights. Shakespeare's Comic Commonwealths 

reviewed by Rick Bowers 

J. M. de Bujanda & al. Index de Rome 1590, 1593, 1596 

recensé par Maurice Lebel 

Tina Krontiris. Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of 
Literature in the English Renaissance; Charlotte F. Otten. English 

Women's Voices, 1540-1700 
reviewed by A. Lynne Magnusson 


James Dauphiné. La bibliothèque de Du Bartas 
recensé par Jean-Claude Temaux 


Daniel Javitch. Proclaiming a Classic: The Canonization of Orlando 

reviewed by Antonio Franceschetti 







Le contenu de ce numéro de Renaissance 
et Réforme est marqué par la question des 
interdits. C'est d'abord la somme 
sidérante des condamnations de livres, 
telle qu'elle se révèle dans les Index 
publiés par le Centre d'Études de la Ren- 
aissance, qui ne peut manquer de nous 
frapper. La Renaissance est une époque 
traversée par une gestion difficile de 
l'interdit. Cet interdit prend évidemment 
de multiples formes, tant sur le plan des 
comportements sexuels comme dans le 
théâtre londonien que dans celui du 
langage même comme chez Rabelais et 
Montaigne. Il dépassait largement les 
frontières du religieux. Il a semblé affecter, 
comme le montre l'article de Walter Lim 
dans ces pages, tous les systèmes de 
coloniale à l'époque de la reine Elizabeth 
pre Nous sommes toujours tentés d'en 
tirer pour notre époque des leçons de 
vigilance. Si nous assistons maintenant à 
la fin, ou tout au moins, au déclin des 
bibliothèques, il n'est pas sûr que cet 
événement annonce pour nous des condi- 
tions favorables à l'expansion des idées 
et du savoir libre. Nous sommes toujours 
aux abords d'une certaine obscurité de la 

The content of this issue of Renaissance 
and Reformation poses the problem of 
interdictions. The publication of the most 
recent Index at the Centre for the Study of 
the Renaissance (University of Sherbrooke) 
reveals the astounding impact of censor- 
ship on book publications and the dis- 
semination of ideas throughout Europe in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Interdictions and condemnations took 
many forms, from the strict codes of 
social and sexual behaviour (as in the 
London theatre) to the regulations sur- 
rounding the use of language (as in 
Rabelais and Montaigne). Similar at- 
tempts at controlling representations of 
power seem to pervade the entire colonial 
enterprise during the reign of Elizabeth I 
in England. It is always rather tempting to 
draw conclusions which would apply to 
our own times. If we are, as some of us 
think, in the midst of a definitive decline 
of the printed book, it is nevertheless 
unclear whether such a decline will in the 
end foster the freedom of speech and the 
diffusion of new ideas. It appears that our 
civilization is always at the brink of un- 
known periods of darkness and that we 
must remain vigilant. 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 1 ( 1 995) /3 

The Sexual Identities of Moll 

Cutpurse in Dekker and 

Middleton's The Roaring 

Girl and in London 


Summary: Moll Cutpurse dramatically demonstrates the insufficiency of 
gender categories both in The Roaring Girl and in her life. The fictional Moll 's 
sex/gender ambiguity is explored through three distinct sexual identities 
(prostitute, hermaphrodite, bisexual ideal) and is further complicated through 
her heroic personation. Ultimately, the playwrights replace negative social 
readings of Moll's sexuality with a positive ideal, albeit an incomplete one. 
When the real Moll appeared on stage, she not only usurped the male actor's 
prerogative, she also rejected her fictional rehabilitation. Through her overtly 
sexual language, her cross-gendered performance, and her transvestite cos- 
tume, she recuperated transgression as social signifier. 


homas Dekker and Thomas Middleton' s The Roaring Girl has received its 
share of attention in the ongoing academic discourse on cross-dressed females 
in the Renaissance transvestite theater. The play differs from most of its 
contemporaries, however, in that it features a hermaphroditically attired 
heroine drastically unlike the romanticized disquised-as-a-boy female leads of 
romantic comedy; moreover, the characterization of Moll Cutpurse in the play 
is complicated by the actual Moll Cutpurse, who tested and crossed the 
boundaries of the male theater by appearing on stage as herself — a cross- 
dressed virago — at the Fortune playhouse following a performance of the very 
play that featured her as character.^ 

Christened Mary Frith, Moll Cutpurse, as her portrait on the frontispiece 
of the printed version of The Roaring Gj>/^ testifies, consciously inverted and/ 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 1 (1995) /S 

6 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

or rejected traditional gender signifiers in her apparel: her cropped hair, her 
pipe smoking, her drawn sword, and her French slops mark her for notice, not 
for transvestite "passing." Neither in the fictive London of Dekker and 
Middleton's play nor in the actual London of the early seventeenth century 
does Moll's costume generally serve as a disguise.^ In fact, despite the 
frontispiece depiction (which portrays her in trousers), both the play and an 
extant arrest record for Moll describe her propensity to combine male and 
female attire. On January 27, 161 1/12, The London Correction Book records 
various charges against Moll and recounts her previous arrest cind conviction 
for apearing on the stage of the Fortune "about 3 quarters of a yeare since." The 
current charges against Moll include one for cross-dressing: "she was since 
vpon Christmas day at night taken in Powles Church w'*' her peticoate tucked 
vp about her in the fashion of a man w* a mans cloake on her to the great 
scandall of diu[er]s p[er]sons who vnderstood the same & to the disgrace of all 
womanhood.""* The court "reads" Moll's appearance as lewd and immodest 
and so questions her regarding prostitution and procurement: she was "pressed 
to declare whether she had not byn dishonest of her body & hath not also 
drawne other women to lewdnes by her p[er]swasion." But, despite having 
"voluntarily confessed" to other charges equally serious (like blasphemy, 
public drunkenness, and cutting purses), Moll "absolutely denied y' she was 
chargeable w^ eyther of these imputac[i]ons." "Diuers understood" that she 
was not a man, but the court really had no term for what she was, so it 
reinscribed her behavior in terms that corresponded to the established cultural 
binary of gender. As a compromised female, Moll is assumed a prostitute. 

Similar to the actual Moll's appearance at St. Paul's, the character Moll 
first appears in The Roaring Girl hermaphroditically attired: Enter Mol in a 
freese lerkin and a blacke saueguard (2.1.155).^ (A safeguard is a kind of 
overskirt, designed primarily to protect the outer skirt from dirt when women 
go riding; the jerkin, of course, is a man's jacket). Although clearly costumed 
female from the waist down, Moll is "male" from the waist up, and she further 
compromises her female identity in the play by equipping herself with 
traditionally male and symbolically phallic objects — a tobacco pipe and a 
short sword. These are the "signs" of Moll that the other characters in the play 
as well as the larger audience must attempt to "read." 

And readings have been plentiful and various. Mary Beth Rose (re)places 
The Roaring Girl into one of its historical contexts — the early seventeenth- 
century debate on female cross-dressing — and concludes that the transvestite 
heroine, despite her sympathetic treatment by Dekker and Middleton, cannot 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 7 

be absorbed into Jacobean social and sexual hierarchies.^ Viviana Comensoli 
points to the inadequacies of the other marriages in the play to help clarify the 
apparent dichotomy between Moll's conventional views and her unconven- 
tional behavior.^ Both Jo Miller, in "Women and the Market in The Roaring 
Girl,'' and Jean Howard, in "Crossdressing, the Theatre, and Gender Struggle 
in Early Modem England," see the play as being more successfully transgres- 
sive: for Miller, Moll successfully demonstrates the flaws in the system of 
exchange that markets women; for Howard, Moll represents a significant 
reversal of authority in a play in which "the resistance to patriarchy and its 
marriage customs is clear and sweeping."^ Stephen Orgel also considers 
Moll's character in terms of the marriage market, an institution he believes 
Dekker and Middleton reconfigure on stage to accommodate the mannish 
female: in the world of the play, "acting like a man is clearly better than acting 
like a woman, both more attractive and . . . more likely to lead to an honourable 
marriage."^ A similar but more radical reading is offered by Jonathan DoUimore: 
"the female transvestite of the early seventeenth century positively disrupts 
[the binarism of gender] by usurping the master side of the opposition" and thus 
"represents a subversive reinscription within, rather than a transcendence of, 
an existing order."^° Howard's latest study examines sexual desire and anxiety 
in the play and finds Moll's often contradictory representation signifying both 
female desire and male homoeroticism.^^ Together, Orgel, Howard and 
Dollimore compellingly redirect critical investigation of the sex / gender 
tensions in the play.^^ Earlier readings of The Roaring Girl as transvestite text 
not only reinscribed (and therefore reaffirmed, even if negatively) the binarism 
of gender — male and female, they also minimized the significance of 
transgression by accepting the cross-dressed woman as normal and arguing the 
desirability of cultural reform that incorporates and empowers the outsider: the 
transvestite female is, after all, simply a female who wants the independence 
and/or privileges of the male. But even the more recent readings, while 
recognizing the power of the female transvestite on stage as transvestite, 
present the power as subversive rather than oppositional or alternative and 
locate it within the relatively safe limits of the culture — a culture that allows 
boys to cross-dress on stage and to "double-cross" when playing female cross- 
dressers — and, further, they minimize the theatrical normalizing of the stage 
transvestite. If the female transvestite, as Dollimore argues, "usurps the master 
side of the opposition," and so "positively disrupts" the binarism of gender, 
why does this positive transgression result in the recuperation of cultural 
"normalcy" — in the celebration of heterosexual marriage that makes sexual- 

8 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

ity and reproduction essential to the definition of gender identity? And why 
does a positively reinscribed culture view with derision the transvestite 
transgression of the actual Moll on stage and imprison her for it?'^ 

These questions are further complicated in The Roaring Girl because the 
transvestite heroine herself does not marry at the end of the play, although her 
agency is key to the marriage that takes place; in fact, the social unacceptability 
of her potential marriage allows for the comic duping of Sir Alexander (the 
father who acts as the traditional block to the lovers) and his subsequent 
reconciliation with his son Sebastian. Further, the hero Moll undergoes no 
dramatic change in the play; like Prospero, she choreographs rather than 
participates in the action. Her delight in cross-dressing is the most prominent 
element of a constant personality — a self-fashioned sexual enigma. She 
neither assumes nor doffs her hermaphroditic/ transvestite costume (although 
she frequently changes clothes) in the course of the play; instead, her figure 
dramatically exemplifies a category crisis by insisting that the gender catego- 
ries — the comfortable binarism of male/female — are insufficient. 

But is there a "third term" we can call Moll? What alternatives do Dekker 
and Middleton suggest to the London court's reinscription of the actual Moll 
as prostitute? And will recuperating those altematives reveal or conceal Moll 
Cutpurse — either the character or the person? Finally, do the playwrights 
locate Moll within or without the cultural binary or gender? 

The play, in fact, is obsessed with ways to read Moll's sexual identity; as 
I noted earlier, the character is completely static in terms of either internal or 
external conflict. Instead Moll gains dramatic complexity through the inter- 
play of at least three different sexual identities and through the character's 
refusal to identify herself in sexual terms. To the characters in the play, she is 
sometimes female, her sexuality determined by the polarizing discourse which 
places her at either extreme on the spectrum of heterosexuality — whore or 
virgin.^'* Sometimes she is identified as "monster," the physical hermaphrodite 
whose sexual indeterminancy implies threatening bisexual power. '^ Moll, on 
the other hand, displays the familiar attributes of the dramatic hero — physical 
prowess, a noble spirit, and a moral certitude — that succeed only because she 
removes herself from questions of sexual identity. In addition, the playwrights 
infuse the character with an almost mystical power that transforms the 
hermaphrodite from a social threat into an ideal of transcendence, a coincidentia 
oppositoruniy expressed through the completeness achieved by combining the 
idea of female and male into one being. •*' 

Because her hermaphroditic costume calls public attention to herself, 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 9 

some characters echo the London court's misreading of the actual Moll and 
assume that the fictional Moll is sexually promiscuous. Thus, Mistress 
Openwork suspects Moll to be one of her husband's whores. And the stupidly 
macho servant Trapdoor mistakenly assumes that sex can and will usurp class 
— that the power of his penis can turn his mistress into his servant: "when her 
breeches are off, shee shall follow me," he tells Sir Alexander (1.2.226). But 
the longest and most in-depth misreading of Moll as whore involves the gallant 
Laxton, a somewhat sexually ambiguous character himself. Named to suggest 
the impotence of the castrato (lack stone [s]), Laxton proves lecherous but 
sexually ineffective throughout the play. At his very first meeting with Moll, 
he boldly propositions her with the promise of money. But even before 
speaking with her, he reads her "manly spirit" in terms of purchased female 
favors and consequent reproduction: 

Lax. Hart I would giue but too much money to be nibling with that wench 
... me thinkes a braue Captaine might get all his souldiers vpon her ... if 
hee could come on, and come off quicke enough. 


And, at his first opportunity, he believes he enjoins her to a sexual contract: 

Lax. . . . prethee, sweete plumpe Mol, when shall thou and I go out a towne 

Moll What to do there. 

Lax. Nothing but bee merry and lye together . . . Nay but appoint the place 
then, there's ten Angels in faire gold MoU you see I do not trifle with you." 


Although the play clearly and forcefully denies any merit to Laxton' s 
reading of Moll as prostitute and posits as fact her chastity, it does not place 
her among womankind; rather it places her as champion of women and chastity 
— a cross-dressed Diana (or a Venus Armata) who punishes men for their 
mistreatment of women. Cloaked and armed, she confronts Laxton and draws: 

In thee I defye all men, their worst hates. 
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts, 
With which they intangle the poore spirits of fooles. 
Distressed needlewomen and trade-fallne wiues. 
Fish that must needs bite, or themselues be bitten, 

Tis the best fish he takes: but why good fisherman, 

10 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Am I thought meate for you, that neuer yet 
Had angling rod cast towards me? cause youl'e say 
I'me giuen to sport, F me often mery, iest. 
Had mirth no kindred in the world but lust? 

shame take all her friends then: but how ere 
Thou and the baser world censure my life, 

He send 'em word by thee, and write so much 

Vpon thy breast, cause thou shalt bear't in mind. 

Tell them 'twere base to yeeld where I have conquer' d. 

1 scome to prostitute my selfe to a man, 
I that can prostitute a man to mee. 


Almost every commentator of the play quotes this forceful oration to demon- 
strate Moll's social consciousness of the shared female experience of sexual 
exploitation as well as her championing of greater power and freedom for 
women in society. ^^ However, Moll makes it perfectly clear that, although she 
feels sympathy for the exploited female and indeed will champion her cause 
(just as she champions other causes later in the play), she is not among those 
she describes. Subject neither to the economic nor the social forces that cause 
women to compromise their sexual standards, Moll certainly is not subject to 
male flattery. In beating Laxton, she proclaims herself above the baser world 
— the world of prostitution and other male-female sexual assignations -^ the 
world that misunderstands her, but she offers no convincing alternate reading 
for herself. In fact, she misreads Laxton — he did not assume her a loose 
woman because of her mirth, nor did she arouse his lust with jesting. He read 
the outward signs: "I must look for a shag ruff, a freeze ierkin, a short sword, 
and a safeguard, or I get none" (3.1.31-32). And she further complicates our 
reading of her by usurping the male prerogative of hiring a prostitute — a 
prerogative that she has just excoriated — again insisting that her life and her 
morals are unrelated to those of other women. 

Not everyone in the play assumes that Moll's hermaphroditic attire 
signifies female wantoness. Some read the visual metaphor of cross-dressing 
literally and so categorize Moll as the "third" sex, the physical hermaphrodite. 
Viola in Twelfth Night uses the physical hermaphrodite as metaphor to 
describe the imperfection of her transformation into Caesario — a "man" with 
the heart and stomach of a woman — when she calls herself "poor monster" 
(2.3.34). But for Viola the metaphor remains a private observation, since her 
outward transformation into a man is quite successful. For Moll, the vehicle of 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 11 

the metaphor is public and dramatically realized — the hermaphroditic 
costume that defines Moll has too much substance, is too real, for some 
characters to translate it into anything but the sexually aberrant and physically 
deformed monster. Thus Sir Alexander describes Moll to his cronies in much 
the same way that an outraged and bewildered Phillip Stubbes describes 
women in men's apparel in his Anatomie of Abuses (1583): "Wherefore these 
Women may not improperly be called Hermaphroditic that is. Monsters of 
bothe kindes, halfe women, half men."^^ Sir Alexander literalizes the metaphor 
of the cross-dressed female as monster even further by describing her physical 
formation in the womb and the resulting deformities after her birth. 

Alex. A creature . . . nature hath brought forth 
To mocke the sex of woman. — It is a thing 
One knowes not how to name, her birth began 
Ere she was all made. Tis woman more then man, 
Man more then woman, and (which to none can hap) 
The Sunne giues her two shadowes to one shape; 
Nay more, let this strange thing, walke, stand or sit. 
No blazing starre drawes more eyes after it. 

Davy. A Monster, tis some Monster. 


Sir Alexander' s image is reminiscent of the rough woodcuts of monstrous 
births that preface so many ballads of the times. Later, Sir Alexander reveals 
further his anxiety over Moll's sexual identity. He calls her "codpice daugh- 
ter," and speculates that her codpiece performs its appropriate function of 
calling attention to what it conceals — male genitals: "will he marry a monster 
with two trinckets?" (2.2.72-73). Alternately, Sir Alexander's anxiety over 
what is below Moll's waist is revealed in terms of another monster: "This 
wench we speake of, straies so from her kind, / Nature repents she made her. 
Tis a Mermaid" (1.2.214-15).^^ 

The possibility of Moll's physical hermaphroditism also attracts the 
curiosity of other characters in the play. Mistress Gallipot and Laxton briefly 
review Moll's trans vestite and hermaphroditic reputation throughout London: 

Mrs. G. Some will not sticke to say shees a man and some both man and 

Lax. That were excellent, she might first cuckold the husband and then make 
him do as much for the wife. 


12 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Laxton' s joke is revealing for it maintains the hermaphrodite as sexual monster 
while recuperating the gender binary of male and female. Randolph Trumbach 
points out that in the seventeenth century the paradigm that related sex to 
gender was "three biological sexes — man, woman, and hermaphrodite'* — 
but only two genders, male and female.^^ His point is reiterated by Stephen 
Greenblatt who notes in his discussion of Jacques Duval in Shakespearean 
Negotiations that the sexual prodigy reaffirms the "normal": 

Discourse on hermaphroditism and discourse on normal sexuality and 
childbirth do not conflict for Duval; on the contrary, they are the same 
discourse, for the knowledge that enables one to understand the monstrous 
conjuction in one individual of the male and female sexes is the identical 
knowledge that enables one to understand the normal experience of sexual 
pleasure and the generation of healthy offspring."^^ 

Ultimately, the monster is a social outcast with no gender identity of its own 
— readable only in terms "normal," the hermaphrodite is at best an unfortunate 
abnormality. Historically, the sexual abnormality was also normalized so- 
cially. The courts assigned a gender, either male or female, to the hermaphro- 
dite "according to the preponderance of the sexual organs."^^ 

The term monster then serves as insult, but cannot function as gender 
identifier in this play, because it disallows the possibility of positive transfer- 
ence from the literal to the metaphoric — from essentializing genitalia and/or 
sexual intercourse to symbolizing gender indeterminancy as a self-fashioned 
construct. If Moll is not a literal hermaphrodite, and the play's conclusion 
shows Sir Alexander apologizing for misreading Moll, then her hermaphro- 
ditic costume indicates something else — either a transgressive desire or a 
transcendent symbol. Like her insistence that she is different from other 
women, this something else is not easily understood by the "normal" charac- 
ters in the play. Greenblatt may be correct in his claims that the real monster 
in early modem Europe serves to rein scribe the normal person; however, the 
self-fashioned monster depends on an aesthetics of perversion or transcend- 
ence that remains inexplicable to the normal person. 

Dekker and Middleton choose the aesthetics of transcendence and depend 
on the other significant cultural identity of the hermaphrodite in Renaissance 
Europe — the neoplatonic ideal of bisexual oneness that intellectualizes 
hermaphroditic self-sufficiency — for a positive reading of their sexually 
ambiguous character. Edgar Wind comments on the pervasiveness of the ideal: 
"Among French humanists of the sixteenth century L' androgyne de Platon 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 13 

became so acceptable an image for the universal man that a painter could apply 
it without impropriety to Francis F' (213-14).^^ This ideal is also the "faire 
Hermaphrodite'' of Spenser's Fairie Queene (3.12.46a). Consider Spenser's 
bisexual Venus in Book IV:^"* 

The cause why she was couered with a vele, 
Was hard to know, for that her Priests the same 
From peoples knowledge labour' d to concele. 
But sooth it was not sure for womanish shame, 
Nor any blemish, which the worke mote blame; 
But for, they say, she had both kinds in one. 
Both male and female, both vnder one name: 
She syre and mother in herself alone, 
Begets and eke conceiues, ne needeth other none. 


Although Spenser specifies that Venus' s veil covers both kinds of sexual 
organs, in actuality he removes sexuality from his Venus. Self-sufficient, she 
is socially asexual. Renaissance Platonists intellectualized Venus in other 
combined forms. Clearly, the Hermes-Aphrodite union produces 
Hermaphroditus, who during the Renaissance can be elaborated either through 
the O vidian portrayal as physical monster, or through one of the alternate 
portrayals as symbol of harmony .^^ In addition, the armed Venus who takes on 
the guise and the role of her opposite, Diana, also finds considerable play in 
Spenser and in the cult of Elizabeth, both before and after the queen's death. 
One of the most powerful elaborations of that cult reveals the manly female, 
the armed queen at Tilbury, a sixteenth-century Venus Armata. Even though 
the most famous picture celebrating Queen Elizabeth as heroic virago is a 
Stuart creation by Thomas Cecil (1625), poets 2ind ballad-makers from 1588 
on record the queen visiting her troops and equipped with the accoutrements 
of war.^^ A 1603 engraving by Crispin Van de Passe after a portrait by Issac 
Oliver, uses as gloss a pun on Virgil's description of the Venus/Diana figure 
from the Aeneid: "Virginis os habitumque geris, divina virago."^^ I am not 
suggesting that Dekker and Middleton turned a notorious underworld figure 
into a goddess or an allegorical queen of England. What I am suggesting is that 
they used a pervasive intellectual symbol — the hermaphroditic ideaF^ — to 
avoid socio-sexual issues that could not be resolved positively and without 
irony in terms of city comedy and had no place in romantic comedy. And 
because a positive cultural reading of the heroic virago existed in contempo- 
rary literature and political ideology through the poetic elaboration of mytho- 

14 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

logical figures, Moll's cross-dressing could be normalized into the outward 
sign of a noble and courageous spirit. Thus, Moll's hermaphroditic costume 
becomes the symbol of transcendence. 

In the prologue to the printed version, Middleton begins the mythic 
reconstruction of Moll Cutpurse. He confesses that this play avoids issues not 
suited for a "modest assembly" — that the play consciously transforms the 
social and sexual transgressiveness of the actual Moll into other terms: 

worse things I must needs confesse the world ha' s taxt her for, then has beene 
written of her; but 'tis the excellency of a Writer to leaue things better than 
he finds 'em .... we rather wish in such discoueries, where reputation lies 
bleeding, a slackenesse of truth, then fulnesse of slander, 

("To the Comick Play-readers," 11.18-28) 

He also supplies the mythological premise for those other terms, the hermaph- 
roditic neo-platonic third term: ''Venus being a woman passes through the play 
in doublet and breeches" (11.13-14).^° This hermaphroditically costumed 
Venus is reminiscent of Spenser's bisexual Venus who "needeth other none." 
We learn from Moll herself that she is "man enough for a woman" and likes 
"to lye aboth sides ath bed [her]self." The character's own terms of sexuality 
are terms of self-sufficiency. The woman Moll is man enough for is Moll; the 
man Moll is woman enough for is also Moll. By sleeping alone, she lies on both 
sides of the bed, and "needeth other none." 

The Prologus continues the introduction of Moll as transcendent by 
contrasting her with other roaring girls in and around London: "None of these 
Roaring Girles is ours; shee flies / With wings more lofty" (11. 25-26). And, 
throughout the play, references to Moll's bravery, courage and noble spirit are 
defined in terms of her costume. Trapdoor tells Sir Alexander, for instance, that 
Moll will visit his son in "a shirt of male" (3.3.18 and 20), punning of course 
on her man's apparel as armor. And in his very next line, he alludes to Virgil's 
Venus Armata, the Venus in breeches who assumes the guise of Diana, when 
he refers to her as the Moon — the most commonplace symbol of Diana. At 
other times, the cross-dressed Moll is called "braue Captaine male and female" 
(3.3.170), is compared to a soldier (2.1), is complimented for her "heroicke 
spirit and masculine womanhood" (2.1.32). All of these references, despite 
their comic context, depend on the "divine virago" subtext.^ ^ 

Moll's character depends on other intellectual and mythological combi- 
nations that Renaissance writers manipulated in their attempts to define the 
unusual, both real and ideal. As a Cutpurse by reputation, Moll herself brings 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 15 

up the connection to Mercury when describing another of that tribe who uses 
a wand or walking stick to lift rings from a goldsmith's stall. She call his stick 
a caduceus, the symbol of Mercury, god of thieves, father of Hermaphroditus, 
and companion to Venus. Mercury as god of thieves is such a commonplace 
that for many Moll's reference to the caduceus operates as a synecdoche. 
Moreover, the combination of Venus and Mercury as astrological influences 
on the character of a female underworld figure is readily apparent. The 
biographer of the actual Moll, writing shortly after her death, admits that he 
does not know the month of her birth; nonetheless, he proceeds with confi- 
dence to outline her horoscope as ''Mercury in conjunction with, or rather in 
the house of Venus at her Nativity": 

This Flanet Mercury you must know ... is of a Thievish, Cheating, Deceitful 

Influence For the other of Venus, most Men and Women know without 

teaching what are her properties. She hath dominion over all Whores, Bauds, 
Pimps, &c. and joined with Mercury over all Trapanners and Hectors."^^ 

The astrological reading — Renaissance substitute for sociology and 
psychology — seems ready-made to explain the actual Moll Cutpurse; but 
Dekker and Middleton's Moll Cutpurse demands a less transgressive inscrip- 
tion. From Mercury/Hermes she seems to inherit eloquence, craftiness without 
deceitfiilness, and musical ability. And, just as she was recreated as a chaste 
Venus/ Aphrodite in her heroic championing of women against Laxton, so her 
character inverts the negative aspects of Mercury: Hermes traded his lute for 
the caduceus; the stage Moll retains her viol while the thief carries the 
caduceus. And rather than the conjunction of Mercury and Venus constructing 
Moll negatively as an entrapper of innocents or a bully, the same qualities are 
reinscribed positively, so that she recognizes and exposes the thief and the 
blusterer. It must be emphasized, however, that she accomplishes these good 
deeds because she is the child of Venus and Mercury. She entraps the entrapper 
and bullies the bully. So she trips up the braggart Trapdoor, and later entraps him 
into exposing himself as a counterfeit, just as she entraps the cutpurse in her midst. 
In dramatic terms, the trickster of city comedy acquires an ethical dimension. 

At every opportunity, the playwrights displace the negative social read- 
ings of Moll and replace them with the positive ideal. By privileging the 
intellectual reading of Moll as symbolic hermaphroditic ideal over the social/ 
sexual readings of Moll as whore or monster, the playwrights deemphasize 
questions of sexuality. As Middleton insisted in the Preface, it is the "excel- 
lency of the writer to leave things better than he finds 'em," and where he and 

16 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Dekker found Moll's character defined in terms of sexual binaries — male or 
female, normal or monster — they left the transcendent synthesis. 

But this identity of Moll remains only one of several. It is in the interplay 
of all these identities that the character Moll is socially rehabilitated for an 
audience already familiar with the actual Moll through her scandalous reputa- 
tion. Yet the rehabilitation is in itself complicated and problematic, and 
Middleton calls attention to its incompleteness or insufficiency in the epilogue, 
knowing that the character "Cannot pay full [the audience's] expectation" 
(1.34). Perhaps as Dawson argues, by leaving questions of gender unresolved, 
the playwrights demonstrate their "awareness that theatrical images are a 
matter of exchange and that what is evoked in the theater is a fluctuating, 
unstable currency."^^ Perhaps the several readings reveal instead the problems 
of combining the genres of city comedy and romantic comedy, and unlike Ben 
Jonson's Epicoene, taking both of them seriously. What is clear by the end of 
the play is that Moll is not threatening to the culture — that, when she has the 
most power, she uses it to support conventional social values, not to disrupt 
them. Should we read this as a plea for greater social tolerance, or as an 
avoidance of confronting issues of social difference, or as another instance of 
dominance containing its opposition? In one sense, by making Moll transcend- 
ent the playwrights have begged the question: the character does not need or 
desire incorporation into a society that she herself terms the baser world; nor 
can she transgress against a society she is above. Like the monster hermaph- 
rodite who is reinscibed in terms of the male and female gender binary and, by 
becoming socially normalized, loses his/her identity as a third sex, the 
metaphoric hermaphrodite Moll Cutpurse loses her social identity as a third 
gender by becoming intellectualized into the ideal synthesis. 

Ultimately, the characterization of Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl 
may do more to conceal the actual Moll than it does to reveal her. However, 
the actual Moll, as the playwrights promised, appeared on stage at the Fortune 
following a performance of The Roaring Girl and provided one more reading 
of the character by serving as visual comparison and verbal commentary. She 
appeared cross-dressed, "in mans appareil & in her boote & v/th a sword by her 
side," and she usurped the male actors' prerogative by performing for the 
audience. Again, the London Correction Book captures the impropriety: "And 
[she] sat there vppon the stage in the publique viewe of all the people there 
p[rese]nte in mans appareil & playd vppon her lute & sange a songe." Even more 
scandalous was her unrehearsed behavior; she made "imodest & lascivious 
speaches" and invited those curious and prurient in the audience to her lodgings 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 17 

where, she promised, she would expose herself to prove her female sexuality.^ 
The actions of the real Moll Cutpurse reject her fictional rehabilitation as 
either a supporter of conventional societal values or as a non-threatening 
androgynous ideal. By offering to prove her sex as female, she, like those who 
call her monster, again essentializes genitalia, but she forces the audience to 
juxtapose her normal sex organs with her "abnormal," transgressive appear- 
ance and behavior. The real Moll recuperates transgression as social signifier 
and uses it to define her gender identity. Dekker and Middleton may have 
intended to advocate an increased social liberality when they chose to depict 
Moll as hero in their play; but, if they did, they mistakenly assumed that the 
marginalized would want to be incorporated into the center. The real Moll 
accentuates her marginal status and uses it instead to decenter society. Society, 
of course, retaliated, and Moll was sent to serve a short sentence in Bridewell. 
But we know the story of her actions because she repeated the transgression — 
appearing about three-quarters of a year later at St. Paul's with her "petticoate 
tucked vp . . . in the fashion of a man." Arrested again, Moll's actions reveal 
the real significance of the transvestite/hermaphroditic costume — to disrupt 
society and to challenge its categories, and, by so doing, to offer itself as a 
transgressive aesthetic that creates the terms by which it must be read. 

University of New Orleans 

1 . Anthony Dawson has most recently considered the relationship between the stage Moll and 
the actual Moll in "Mistress Hie & Haec: Representations of Moll Frith," SEU 33 (1993): 
385-404. Dawson believes that the antithetical views offered of the character Moll as 
virtuous and the actual Moll as disreputable serve to demonstrate "how the theater may 
intervene in the cultural arena, participating in a contest for the power to fabricate cultural 
meanings" (398). 

2. P. A. Mulholland in 'The Date of The Roaring Girl" Review of English Studies, n.s. 28 
(1977): 18-31, believes the frontispiece represents an actual likeness. Whether it does or not, 
it certainly reflects the conspicuousness of Moll's appearance. The frontispiece is reprinted 
in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, ed. Fredson Bowers (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1958) at the beginning of The Roaring Girl in volume 3. 

3. Mary Beth Rose in 1984 was the first to note that female cross-dressing in the play was 
unusual because it was not done for the purpose of disguise. Her article, "Women in Men's 
Clothing: Apparel and Social Stability in The Roaring Girl," ELR 14 (1984): 367-91, is 
reprinted in chapter 2 of her book. The Expense of Spirit: Love and Sexuality in English 
Renaissance Drama (Ithaca and Lx)ndon: Cornell University Press, 1988). References in 
this article are to the book. 

18 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

4. The original charges against Moll, *'Ojficium Domini contra Mariam FFrith" can be found 
in the Consistory of London Correction Book for November 1 6 1 1 to October 1613 (ref DL/ 
€7310, fol. 19-20), housed in the Greater Lx)ndon Record Office, County Hall, Lx)ndon. A 
complete and restored transcript can be found in Mulholland, "The Date of The Roaring 
Girl" p. 3 1 , and in Appendix E of his edition of the play (P. A. Mulholland, éd.. The Roaring 
Girl, by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker [Manchester: University of Manchester 
Press, 1 987). All references to the charges are to Mulholland' s transcript in "The Date of The 
Roaring Girl." 

5. Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton, "The Roaring Girl," in The Dramatic Works of 
Thomas Dekker, ed. Fredson Bowers, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1958) [1]-112. All subsequent references are to this edition. See also Cyrus Hoy, "The 
Roaring Girl," in Introductions, Notes, and Commentaries to Texts in "The Dramatic Works 
of Thomas Dekker, " vol. 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 23. 

6. Rose, pp. 90-91. 

7. Viviana Comensoli, "Play-Making, Domestic Conduct, and the Multiple Plot in The 
Roaring Girl," SEL, 27 (1987): 260-62. 

8. Jean Howard, "Crosdressing, the Theatre, and Gender Struggle in Early Modem England," 
Shakespeare Quarterly, 39 (1988): 439; Jo Miller, "Women and the Market in The Roaring 
Girl," Renaissance and Reformation, n.s. 14 (1990): 1 1-24. 

9. Stephen Orgel, "The Subtexts of The Roaring Girl, " in Erotic Politics: Desire on the 
Renaissance Stage, ed. Susan Zimmerman (New York and London: Routledge, 1 992), p. 24. 

10. Jonathan Dollimore, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault (Oxford: 
Clarendon, 1991), p. 297. 

1 1 . Jean Howard, "Sex and Social Conflict: The Erotics of The Roaring Girl," in Erotic Politics: 
Desire on the Renaissance Stage (New York and Lx)ndon: Routledge, 1992), pp. 170-90. 

1 2. Although it devotes little time directly to Moll Cutpurse, Maijorie Garber' s Vested Interests: 
Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (New York and Lx)ndon: Routledge, 1992), also 
provides insight into cultural constructions of transvestism and contributes notably to recent 
critical response to the play. 

13. Mulholland, "Date," p. 31. 

14. For a good overview of the virgin/whore, saint/sinner duality in early modem discourse, see 
Rose, chap. 1. 

15. As John Friedman in The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought (Cambridge and 
Lx)ndon: Harvard University Press, 1981), Stephen Greenblatt in Shakespearean Negotia- 
tions: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1 988), and others have rightly noted, in Medieval and Renaissance thought the term monster 
did not always carry the same negative connotations it does today. I choose to use it here 
because it was the most commonly used term to describe the hermaphrodite at the time of 
the play, and because in that particular case of physical abnormality, the negative connota- 
tions often pertained then as now. 

Susan E. Krantz / The Sexual Identities of Moll Cutpurse / 19 

1 6. See Stevie Davies' introduction to The Feminine Reclaimed: The Idea of Woman in Spenser, 
Shakespeare, and Milton (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1986) for a good 
discussion on coincidentia oppositorum. 

17. See especially Rose, pp. 81-82 and Howard, "Crossdressing," pp. 437-38. 

1 8. Phillip Stubbes, Anatomie of Abuses (1583), The English Experience, no. 489 (Amsterdam: 
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1972), F[5']. 

19. Sir Alexander might very well have used mermaid here because he envisions the hermaph- 
roditic Moll as male on top in this instance. Since the reference appears before he thinks to 
tell Trapdoor that she wears breeches sometimes, chances are that he is thinking of her in 
a hermaphroditic costume much Uke the one she first wears — a jerkin and safeguard. But 
the hermaphrodite as mermaid/monster works either way. Compare Richard Niccols, The 
Furies (London, 1614). STC18512: 

T'is strange to see a Mermaid, you will say, 
Yet not so strange, as that I saw to day. 
One part of that which 'bove the waters rise, 
Is woman, th' other fish, or fishers Hes. 
One part of this was man or I mistook. ... 
The head is mans, I iudge by hat and haire. 
And by the band and doublet it doth weare, 
The bodie should be mans, what doth it need? 
Had it a codpiece, 'twere a man indeed. 


20. Randolph Trumbach, "London's Sapphists: From Three Sexes to Four Genders in the 
Making of Modem Culture," in Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, 
eds. Julia Epstein and Kristina Staub (New York and London: Routledge, 1991), p. 113. 

21. Greenblatt, p. 77. 

22. The legal practice of normalizing the sex of a hermaphrodite as either male or female 
according to the more pronounced of the sexual characteristics originated in England during 
the thirteenth century (Fleta, Bk.I,chap. 5; qtd. in G[eorge] G[ordon] Coulton, A Medieval 
Panorama [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939], p. 138n). Sir Edward Coke 
reaffirmed the practice in The first part of the Institute of the lawes of England: or a 
Commnentarie vpon Littleton (London, 1 628) 3,a. Coke's commentary is quoted in the OED 
under hermaphrodite. 

23. Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (London: Faber and Faber, 1958; 2nd ed. 
' revised. New York: Norton, 1968), pp. 213-14. Raymond B. Waddington in 'The Bisexual 

Portrait of Francis I: Fontainbleau, Castiglione, and the Tone of Courtly Mythology," in 
Playing with Gender: A Renaissance Pursuit, eds. Jean Brink, Maryanne C. Horowitz, and 
Allison P. Coudert (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1 99 1 ) takes issue with 
Wind's contention of propriety although he does accept the pervasiveness of the Platonic 
androgyne in art. Waddington translates the legend attached to the portrait that emplifies the 
trancendence of the king as hermaphrodite: "your great king surpasses Nature" because 
Mars, Minerva, Diana, Mercury, and Amor all join in one person (99-101). 

20 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

24. Spenser's use of the Platonic hermaphrodite is well documented. See especially Stevie 
Davies (note 14); Donald Cheney, "Spenser's Hermaphrodite and the 1 590 Fairie Queene" 
PMLA, 87 (1972): 192-200; A. R. Crillo, 'The Fair Hermaphrodite: Love-Union in the 
Poetry of Donne and Spenser," SEL, 9 (1969): 81-95; and Lauren Silberman, "The 
Hermaphrodite and the Metamorphisis of Spenserian Allegory," ELR, 17 (1987): 207-23. 

25. Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queene, ed. Thomas P. Roche, Jr. (New York: Penquin, 1978). 

26. See Lauren Silberman, "Mythographic Transformations of Ovid's Hermaphrodite," Six- 
teenth-Century Journal, 19 (1988): 643-52. 

27. See Gabriele Jackson, "Topical Ideology: Witches, Amazons, and Shakespeare's Joan of 
Arc," ELR, 18 (1988): 55-56; Susan Frye in 'The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury," Sixteenth- 
Century Journal, 23 (1992): 95-1 15, argues the mythic, non-factual nature of the cross- 
dressed Queen at Tilbury. Her article also reprints the Thomas Cecil portrait of the queen 
on horseback. The original is housed in the Ashmolean Museum. Regardless of the date of 
certain pictorial representations, however, Elizabethans were familiar with Queen Elizabeth 
as heroic virago. Jackson has shared her work in progress with me that explores the heroic 
virago theme in Renaissance texts and convincingly places Elizabeth in that tradition. 

28. Virgil' s line reads ,"gerens os que habitum virginis, et arme Spartanae virginis" (Aeneid, Bk 
I, 315). A copy of the engraving can be found in Margery Corbett and Michael Norton, 
Engraving in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: A Descriptive Catalog 
with Introductions, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964), pp. 282-83. 

29. For a good overview of works that incorporate the hermaphroditic ideal, see Linda 
Woodbridge, Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Woman- 
kind, 7540-7620 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), pp. 140-41. lam 
indebted to Stevie Davies' readings of the ideal in The Feminine Reclaimed. (See note 14). 
Also important in establishing the nature of the ideal is Marie Delcourt in Hermaphrodite: 
Myths and Rites of the Bisexual Figure in Classical Antiguity, trans. Jennifier Nicholson 
(French edition, 1956; London: Studio Books, 1961), 

30. Dawson claims that "Moll is no Venus" because "her chastity remains well protected by her 
own skillful maneuvers" (397); however, the Venus Armata figure accommodates his 

31. The references also imply another mythic constructon of the heroic virago, the Amazon. 
Although the term amazon is not used in the play, it is interesting to note that Moll teaches 
Sir Alexander the lesson of the vanity of wealth, the same lesson the Amazons taught 
Alexander the Great. Friedman retells the story of Alexander and the Amazons (p. 170). 

32. The Life and Death of Mrs. Mary Frith, Commonly Called Mol Cutpurse (London, 1662) 
pp. 10-11. 

33. Dawson, p. 402. 

34. See Mulholland' s reprint of the charges, p. 3 1 . 

Du ''conseil des muetz" au 

"taire parlier": Le langage du 

geste chez Rabelais et 



Résumé: Cet article traite de la réflexion renaissante sur le langage gestuel 
telle que cette réflexion s * articule dans les textes de Rabelais et Montaigne. 
Ces oeuvres apparaissent en effet comme de précieuses balises de la période 
1540-1580 où se serait manifesté, selon des études récentes, un tournant 
'* empirique " dans la réflexion langagière, amenant les penseurs à délaisser 
la problématique de V origine pour s'intéresser davantage à la question de 
l 'universalité du langage, et ainsi au langage non verbal. Les textes montaignien 
et rabelaisien, qui comportent de nombreux passages apologiques du geste 
comme acte de communication, seront ici étudiés en parallèle, en suivant les 
trois axes principaux de la sémiotique gestuelle de la Renaissance, soit l 'étude 
du langage non verbal des enfants, des sourds-muets et des animaux. 

E'I silentio ancor suole 
Haver prieghi e parole.' 

(Torquato Tasso, Aminte) 

Si, fermé à notre langage, tu n'entends pas nos raisons, à défaut de la voix, 
parle-nous en gestes barbares. 

(Eschyle, Agamemnon) 



réoccupation certes privilégiée de notre modernité, la "question du langage" 
devait subir le sort qui guette invariablement les dadas récurrents de la pensée, 
soit celui d'une cristallisation antithétique: d'un côté, les Cratylistes, tenants 
inconditionnels de la motivation et, de l'autre, les nominalistes, défenseurs 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 1 (1995) /21 

22 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

convaincus de l'arbitraire/ Animé par la volonté de libérer la réflexion 
langagière des liens réducteurs de la dichotomie, Henri Meschonnic signait en 
1984 un court essai au titre évocateur de "La Nature dans la voix,"^ où il 
proposait une réconciliation des contraires à travers la perspective d'un 
langage en acte: "C'est en prenant le langage, empiriquement, comme une 
historicité des sujets qui se parlent, qu'on peut à la fois tenir tout l'arbitraire 
et toute la motivation. Loin de s'opposer, ils sont solidaires, étant une même 
subjectivité individuelle-collective.'"* 

C'est dans cette voie tracée par Meschonnic que nous voulons inscrire 
notre étude du gestuel où le langage sera envisagé d' abord dans sa nature d' acte 
de communication, plutôt que dans sa problématique "originelle." Le choix de 
cette perspective se présente d'ailleurs comme une sorte de retour aux sources, 
puisque l'on peut constater un moment de transformation semblable dans la 
pensée renaissante sur le sujet langagier, "évolution" qui se serait produite, 
selon M.-L. Dumonet, durant la période 1540-1580 où l'intérêt pour "le 
modèle hébreu [comme langue originelle] laisse place à une recherche des 
catégories du discours qui, au-delà de la diversité, se reconstituent autour 
d'une recherche d'universalité, à défaut d'unité originelle ou typologique."^ 

Or, cette attention nouvelle au caractère universel du langage amène peu 
à peu les penseurs à multiplier les traités et les théories sur le langage non 
verbal, et plus particulièrement sur la question du geste. Du traité de Laurent 
Joubert "Question vulgaire. Quel langage parleroit un enfant qui n'auroit 
jamais ouï parler?" à Jean-Baptiste délia Porta (1563) qui s'intéresse aux 
gestes codés, en passant par les divers "manuels sportifs"^ qui décrivent la 
gestuelle propre à chaque discipline: manuels d'escrime (F. Altoni, 
"Monomachia ovvero Arte di Schema," 1536; Camillo Agrippa, Trattato di 
scienza d'arme, 1553), jeux de paume (A. Scaino, Trattato del giuoco délia 
palla. . . , 1 555), etc., la réflexion sur le geste est florissante durant cette période. 
Ces divers auteurs puisent d'ailleurs abondamment dans la pensée antique qui 
avait déjà amorcé cette réflexion sur le gestuel selon trois points de vue 
principaux^: celui de Lucrèce qui suggérait l'antériorité du geste sur la parole: 
"comme nous voyons l'enfant amené, par son incapacité même de s'exprimer 
avec la langue, à recourir au geste qui lui fait désigner du doigt les objets 
présents" {De natura rerum, V); celui d'Épicure, qui recoupe le premier en 
proposant une explication socio-biologique à l'origine du langage: "d'après 
Epicure, le corps est excité à parler"; enfin, le point de vue de Quintilien, qui 
s'intéresse au gestuel par souci rhétorique (Institution oratoire, IX, 3). Les 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 23 

positions de ces trois auteurs traversent ainsi la pensée renaissante sur le geste, 
et nous en retrouvons des traces particulièrement significatives dans les 
pensées de Rabelais et de Montaigne, tous deux promoteurs du langage en acte, 
et dont les textes constituent en quelque sorte des balises pour cette période 
(1540-1580), l'un ouvrant et l'autre fermant ce tournant "empirique" de la 
réflexion sur le langage à la Renaissance. 

Rabelais et Montaigne: les voix du corps 

Du "Trinch" de la Dive Bouteille jusqu'au "nous sommes nés pour agir" (I, 
XX, 89 A), ou de r"estre consiste en mouvement et action (H, viii, 386C) jusqu'au 
''Fay ce que vouldras"^ qui préside à la destinée de Thélème, un même éloge du 
faire se dessine. Par lui, les pensées rabelaisiennes et montaigniennes inscrivent 
l'humaine nature dans un principe agissant, motivé lui-même par le souci d'une 
éthique de l'utile.^ Au mouvement purement spéculatif, Rabelais et Montaigne 
opposeraient donc l'action réelle, la participation proprement corporelle. 

Cette reconnaissance d'une supériorité de l'agir est entre autres percepti- 
ble dans les positions de nos deux auteurs sur le sujet de l'éducation. Cette 
attitude traverse tout le chapitre "De l'Institution des enfans," et est à la source 
de la vertu pédagogique que Montaigne attribue aux voyages: 

A cette cause, le commerce des hommes y est merveilleusement propre, et 
la visite des pays estrangers, [. . .] pour en raporter principalement les 
humeurs de ces nations et leurs façons, Qii^oux frotter et limer nostre cervelle 
contre celle d'autruy. 

(I, xxvi, 153 A) 

L'éloge des voyages repose ici sur une valorisation du déplacement proprement 
physique en tant que mouvement vers une rencontre concrète, palpable de 
l'autre. À cet égard, il convient aussi de se rappeler l'évocation que fait 
l'essayiste des avantages d'un véritable tête-à-tête sur une communication à 
distance par le livre: 

S'il y a quelque personne, quelque bonne compaignie aux champs, en la 
ville, en France ou ailleurs, resseante ou voyagere, à qui mes humeurs soient 
bonnes, de qui mes humeurs me soient bonnes, il n'est que de siffler en 
paume, je leur iray fournir des essays en cher et en os. 

(III, V, 844B) 

C'est dans une perspective similaire que la première éducation sophistique 
de Gargantua axée sur la lecture et l'écriture,'^ trouve sa contrepartie exacte 
dans la discipline de Ponocrates, marquée, elle, par une participation corporelle 

24 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

intense, jeux, discussions à table, chant, pratique d'instruments de musique, etc.: 

[. . .] galentement se exercens les corps comme ilz avoient les ames 
auparavant exercé [. . .] Au commencement du repas estoit leue quelque 
histoire plaisante des anciennes prouesses, jusques à ce qu'il eust prins son 
vin. Lors [. . .] commencoient à diviser joyeusement ensemble. 

(G, XXin, 89-90) 

Du coeur de ces derniers exemples, on peut voir surgir une préoccupation 
essentielle pour une action privilégiée: l'acte de communication. La lecture de 
l'oeuvre rabelaisienne comme invitation à une sorte de banquet perpétuel 
atteste de la haute estime en laquelle Rabelais semble tenir l'acte d'échange 
authentique que peut permettre l'alliage des joies du langage et des plaisirs de 
la table. ^' Chez Montaigne, le "communiquer" joue également un rôle primor- 
dial et constitue même le fondement de toute véritable jouissance: "Nul plaisir 
n'a goust pour moy sans communication. Il ne me vient pas seulement une 
gaillarde pensée en l'ame qu'il ne me fâche de l'avoir produite seul, et n'ayant 
à qui l'offrir" (III, ix, 986B). Ainsi associé au plaisir de l'acte de communica- 
tion, et antérieurement à l'utilité des actions, le langage revêt ici un caractère 
nettement pragmatique qui implique la nécessité d'un mouvement vers l' autre. '^ 
C'est par ce biais qu'il convient le mieux, nous semble-t-il, d'envisager toute 
problématique langagière dans ces deux oeuvres. 

Les réflexions rabelaisienne et montaignienne sur le langage relèveraient 
ainsi de ce qu' on peut appeler une "sémiotique incarnée,"*^ ce que Marie-Luce 
Demonet nomme "langage motivé,"'"* c'est-à-dire une perspective qui suppose 
que la question de l'origine du langage n'est plus considérée comme "simple 
nomination adamique,"*^ mais bien comme "acte de communication."'^ Or, si 
Montaigne et Rabelais tendent à soutenir l'arbitraire du langage et remettent 
en question la possibilité d'un lien naturel entre les noms et la vérité des choses, 
c'est essentiellement pour mettre en doute l'efficacité communicative du 
processus langagier. Les passages les plus connus sur ce propos'^ méritent 
encore d'être cités pour bien les replacer dans la perspective qui nous intéresse. 
Celui du chapitre "De la gloire," d'abord: 

Il y a le nom et la chose: le nom, c'est une voix qui remerque et signifie la 
chose; le nom, ce n'est pas une partie de la chose ny de la substance, c'est 
une piece estrangere joincte à la chose, et hors d'elle. 


La position contre le logocentrisme apparaît des plus claires; en outre, cette 
réflexion vient conforter et expliciter celle qui l'avait précédée (dans 
r "Apologie") sur la naturalité et la nécessité de la parole: "Quant au parler, il 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 25 

est certain que, s'il n'est pas naturel, il n'est pas nécessaire" (II, xii, 458 A). Par 
ailleurs, nous trouvons à ce sujet chez Rabelais la très connue déclaration de 
Pantagruel au chapitre XIX du Tiers Livre: "C'est abus, dire que nous ayons 
langaige naturel. Les langaiges sont par institutions arbitraires et convenences 
des peuples; les voix (comme disent les dialecticiens), ne signifient naturellement, 
mais à plaisir" (7L, XIX, 480). Il n'est d'ailleurs pas insignifiant que cette 
affirmation de Pantagruel se situe justement dans le chapitre "Du conseil des 
muetz," car ce langage des muets tire sa valeur de la constatation d'un certain échec 
de l'efficacité communicative du langage articulé — verbal ou écrit — : 

J'ai leu qu'on temps passé les plus véritables et sceurs oracles n'estoient 
ceulx que par escript on bailloit, ou par parolle on proferoit. Mainctes foys 
y ont faict erreur ceulx voyre qui estoient estimez fins et ingénieux, tant à 
cause des amphibologies, equivocques et obscuritez des motz, que la 
briefveté des sentences; pourtant, feut Apollo, dieu de vaticination, surnommé 
Ao^tfaç. Ceulx que l'on exposait par gestes et par signes estoient les plus 
véritables et certains estimez. 

(TL, XIX, 479) 

Par sa référence au surnom d'Apollon, AoÇlfaç qui signifie "oblique" et qui 
avait été attribué au dieu grec à cause de l'ambiguïté de ses oracles, Pantagruel 
soutient que le langage articulé est équivoque, "amphibologique" et "obscur," 
par opposition au geste qui atteint au "véritable" et au "certain." 

Ce débat sur les positions de Montaigne et de Rabelais au sujet du langage 
nous intéresse principalement ici dans la mesure où l'on pourrait admettre que 
la manifestation dans leurs pensées respectives d'une espèce de désillusion face 
au pouvoir des mots retire vraisemblablement beaucoup à leur prédilection pour 
le faire, pour l'action, qui a servi de point de départ à notre étude. Il apparaît ainsi 
que la combinaison de ces deux attitudes concourt à mener nos penseurs à 
s'intéresser, presque naturellement, au pouvoir du langage du corps: le geste. 

Cette accentuation de la valeur de communication du langage ressortit 
d'abord au courant du conceptualisme où le langage doit avant tout permettre 
l'émission et la réception des conceptions. C'est dans cette perspective que 
Montaigne peut affirmer: "Je veux que les choses surmontent, et qu'elles 
remplissent de façon l'imagination de celuy qui escoute, qu'il n'aye aucune 
souvenance des mots" (I, xxvi, 171A).'^ Le conceptualisme envisage l'acte 
langagier comme une performance de transmission du sens, c'est-à-dire 
comme la production orientée (entendons vers l'autre) de signes extérieurs — 
palpables, sensibles, manifestes aux sens — , signes dont le rôle principal est 
d'agir comme révélateurs de la conception intérieure: sous cet angle, l'acte de 

26 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

langage suppose la participation physique, corporelle, à la fois d'un émetteur 
et d'un récepteur. Claude Blum explicite cette idée à partir de la négation de 
l'épiphanie du sens: "Si le *signe' n'a pas de rapport d'existence à la chose, les 
significations qu'il communique prennent 'forme' en passant par le corps et 
l'esprit de celui qui les émet et de celui qui les reçoit." Il convient de rappeler ici 
l'idée de iangage motivé' chez Marie-Luce Demonet dont "le point de départ [. 
. .] est la sensation."'^ Ainsi, dans "Question doubteuse: le langage," Demonet 
établit un parallèle entre les "conceptions" et ces "affects" ou "passions" qui, selon 
certaines théories, auraient pu présider à la naissance du langage: 

Les fameuses conceptions [. . .] ressemblent fort aux 'passions' de J.-J. 
Rousseau dans L'essai sur V origine des langues: Toutes les passions 
rapprochent les hommes que la nécessité de chercher à vivre force à se fuir. 
Ce n'est ni la faim, ni la soif, mais l'amour, la haine, la pitié, la colère, qui 
leur ont arraché les premières voix.' Expression qui implique la présence 
d'un autre, d'un interlocuteur?^ 

Ici encore, la "corporéité" et la "présence" occupent le premier plan et 
nous ramènent au langage gestuel qui apparaît d'ailleurs le plus souvent 
comme le médium privilégié de l'expression des affects, donc plus réel, et qui 
ainsi épouse mieux la condition "merveilleusement corporelle" de l'homme.^' 
En effet, le geste est toujours un énoncé directionnel qui implique nécessairement 
et dans un rapport d' immédiateté et de concrétude la présence d'un interlocuteur, 
d'un récepteur: le geste est "pure énonciation," nous dit encore Marie-Luce 
Demonet, car "le prédicat gestuel ne représente pas un objet, il ne renvoie pas 
à un nom. Il est l'équivalent (irréductible) d'une phrase dont le groupe sujet est 
l'émetteur, dans sa présence."^^ Le langage gestuel est donc, par définition 
même, producteur d'une communication directe et instantanée. Le geste 
apparaîtra ainsi comme le plus sûr garant des préoccupations essentielles de 
Montaigne et de Rabelais, à savoir la mise en oeuvre d'une éthique de l'agir 
à travers la réalisation concrète d'une véritable activité communicative. 

Le traitement du langage gestuel par Montaigne et par Rabelais recoupe 
les trois topoi des études consacrées au langage non verbal à la Renaissance, 
soit le langage enfantin, la comparaison avec les animaux et l'observation des 
sourds-muets,^^ lieux de réflexion qui se nourrissent les uns les autres dans de 
multiples recoupements. 

Le mot "enfant," rappelons-le, viendrait du latin infans signifiant "qui ne 
parle pas." Or, depuis l'Antiquité, les théories se sont multipliées sur la 
question du caractère inné ou acquis du langage chez l'homme. Pour appuyer 
la thèse de l' inné, la plupart des penseurs ont recours à une même légende, celle 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 27 

du "Roi Psammetic." Rabelais la rapporte par la bouche de Panurge lorsque ce 
dernier s'oppose à Pantagruel qui laisse entendre que quelqu'un qui n'aurait 
jamais entendu parler ne pourrait parler lui-même; ce propos de Pantagruel, qui 
vise à illustrer la thèse du langage comme acquis, est mis en doute par Panurge: 

Si vray feust que l'homme ne parlast qui n'eust ouy parler, je vous menerois 
à logicalement inférer une proposition bien abhorrente et paradoxe. [. . .] Vous 
doncques ne croyez ce qu'escript Hérodote des deux enfans guardez dedans 
une case par le vouloir de Psammetic, roy des AEgyptiens, et nourriz en 
perpétuelle silence, les quelz après certain temps prononcèrent ceste parole: 
Becus, laquelle, en langue Phrygienne, signifie pain? 

(7L, XIX, 479-480) 

Mais Pantagruel revient à la charge par l'affirmation relative à l'arbitraire du 
langage citée plus haut (TL, XIX, 480), réfutant ainsi la thèse de l'inné. 
Montaigne rapporte également la légende de Psammetic, mais en ne la citant 
pas de manière aussi explicite, et en soutenant, quant à lui, le caractère inné de 
l'habileté de langage comme moyen de communication: 

Toutefois, je croy qu'un enfant qu'on auroit nourry en pleine solitude, 
esloigné de tout commerce (qui seroit un essay mal aisé à faire), auroit 
quelque espèce de parolle pour exprimer ses conceptions, et n'est pas 
croyable que nature nous ait refusé ce moyen qu'elle a donné à plusieurs 
autres animaux. 


Comme on le voit, Montaigne se garde bien d'identifier cette "parolle" à une 
langue particulière qui, par cet argument, se verrait attribuer le statut de langue 
originelle (comme la langue phrygienne dans la légende de Psammetic); 
Montaigne préfère identifier la parole innée à une sorte de langage primitif qui 
s'apparenterait au langage des animaux, lesquels posséderaient donc aussi, 
selon lui, cette aptitude innée au langage, ou plus justement à l'acte 

[. . .] nous découvrons [. . .] que entre elles il y a une pleine et entière 
communication et qu'elles s 'entr' entendent [. . .] Aux bestes mesmes qui 
n'ont pas de voix, par la société d'offices que nous voyons entre elles, nous 
argumentons aisément quelque autre moyen de communication: 

Non alia longé ratione atque ipsa videtur 
Protrahere ad gestum pueros infantia linguae. 

(H, xii, 453A) 

Ici encore, le langage enfantin et celui des animaux se rejoignent par une même 
inaptitude au langage articulé, faiblesse qui permet le développement du 

28 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

langage universel du geste. 

Cette question de la comparaison avec les animaux est abondamment 
traitée par Montaigne dans 1' "Apologie" où il adopte le point de vue augustinien, 
point de vue traditionnel sur la question, à savoir le mythe de Babel comme 
infériorité du langage de l'homme par rapport à celui des bêtes, qui traverse ces 
barrières par son caractère plus naturel et donc davantage universel: "Un 
ancien père dit que nous sommes mieux en la compagnie d'un chien cognu 
qu'en celle d'un homme duquel le langage nous est inconnu. Ut extemus 
alieno non sit hominis vice*' (I, ix, 37B).^^ Montaigne va même plus loin en 
reconnaissant que le langage animal — mi-voix, mi-geste — représente une 
sorte de "parler": car qu'est-ce autre chose que parler, cette faculté que nous 
leur voyons de se plaindre, de se resjouyr, de s'entr'appeler au secours, se 
convier à l'amour, comme ils font par l'usage de leur voix" (II, xii, 458 A)? Ici 
toutefois, Montaigne s'en tient à l'expression des "affects" (niveau instinctif 
auquel se limitait nécessairement, selon Aristote, le langage animal). Mais, 
immédiatement, il fait un pas de plus. Ce "parler" des bêtes constitue une 
communication véritable qui appartiendrait, dès lors, non plus à l'ordre de 
l'instinct, mais se situerait plutôt à un niveau d'intentionnalité en tous points 
comparable aux gestes volontaires des hommes :^^ "Comment ne parleroient 
elles entr' elles? elles parlent bien à nous, et nous à elles. En combien de sortes 
parlons-nous à nos chiens? et ils nous respondent (II, xii, 45 8A). Comporterpents 
qui rejoignent ceux que présupposaient les verbes performatifs attribués aussi 
aux animaux quelques pages auparavant dans les Essais: "Elles nous flattent, 
nous menassent et nous requièrent," actions qui d'ailleurs appellent toutes une 
réponse, invitant à une interaction réelle, à une réciprocité de l' acte communicatif 
et du plaisir qui s'y rattache, comme dans cette courte scène des jeux de 
Montaigne avec sa chatte: "[C] Quand je me joue à ma chatte, qui sçait si elle 
passe son temps de moy plus que je ne fay d'elle. [D] Nous nous entretenons 
de singeries réciproques" (II, xii, 452). 

Le langage animal disposant donc d'un statut privilégié face au langage 
humain, la capacité humaine de communication avec les bêtes est perçue 
conune une qualité exceptionnelle qui confère une supériorité aux hommes qui 
en jouissent et la pratiquent: "Platon, en sa peinture de l'aage doré sous 
Saturne, compte entre les principaux advantages de l'homme de lors la 
communication qu'il avoit avec les bestes" (II, xii, 452C). Chez Rabelais, on 
trouve un exemple de cette supériorité en la personne de "messere Gaster, 
premier maistre es ars du monde," dont l'une des manifestations de son 
immense pouvoir se traduit justement par la communication tout à fait 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 29 

privilégiée qu'il entretient avec les animaux: 

Mesme es animans brutaulx il apprend ars desniées de Nature. Les corbeaulx, 
les gays [. . .] il rend poètes; les pies il faict poëtrides, et leurs aprent 
languaige humain proférer, parler, chanter. [. . .] Les aigles, gerfaulx, [. . .] 
oizeaux peregrins [. . .] il domesticque et apprivoise [...]. Les elephans, les 
lyons [. . .] il faict danser, baller, voltiger, combattre, nager, soy cacher, 
aporter ce qu'il veult, prendre ce qu'il veult .... 

(j2^, LVn, 210-211) 

Ce don se trouve renforcé par l'un des principaux traits de la nature même du 
"maistre es ars," laquelle ressemble davantage à celle des animaux qu'à celle 
des autres hommes, puisque Gaster ne "parle que par signes." Sourd-muet, 
messere Gaster nous apparaît même comme une sorte de représentant idéal de 
la force du langage non verbal, puisque les trois topoi des langages animal, 
enfantin et des sourds-muets convergent en sa personne. Analysons un peu 
plus avant le portrait qu'en trace Alcofribas Nasier: 

Et comme les AEgyptiens disoient Harpocras, Dieu de silence, en grec 
nommé Sigalion, estre astomé, c'est à dire sans bouche, ainsi Gaster sans 
aureilles feut créé; comme en Candie le simulachre de Juppiter estoit sans 
aureilles. Il ne parle que par signes. Mais à ces signes tout le monde obeist 
plus soubdain qu'aux edictz des Praeteurs, et mandemens des Roys. [. . .] 
Vous dictez que au rugissement du lyon toutes bestes loing à l'entour 
frémissent, tant que estre peult sa voye ouye. 

Gaster, né sans oreilles, est assimilé au dieu Harpocras-Sigalion, né sans 
bouche. L'identité de Harpocras comporte des éléments des plus significatifs 
pour notre propos. Comme le mentionne Rabelais, il s'agit d'un dieu égyptien, 
"Har-Pekhrad" — ce qui signifie "Horus l'enfant — : ce dieu figurait l'un des 
aspects d' Horus, soit Horus dans son enfance, et était représenté par un enfant 
suçant son doigt. La bouche sert donc essentiellement ici à combler le besoin 
vital de se nourrir et n'est donc pas disponible pour la profération d'une parole, 
ce qui équivaut à son absence, selon l'interprétation de Rabelais. 

Quant à Sigalion, il est la récupération du dieu Harpocras par les Grecs et 
les Romains qui en ont fait le dieu du silence ou dieu muet ("Sigalion" vient 
de "sigh", racine qui signifie "silence, mutisme"). Le topos du langage animal, 
quant à lui, apparaît dans la comparaison entre la voix de Gaster et le 
rugissement du lion, qui se trouve renforcée par un second rapprochement 
entre les effets produits par la voix du "maistre es ars": "tout le ciel tremble, 
toute la terre tremble," et le "frémissement" des bêtes au cri du roi des animaux. 
Le langage non verbal est en quelque sorte investi de la puissance de Gaster 

30 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

("En quelques compaignies qu'il soit, discepter ne fault de supériorité et 
praeference: toujours va davant [. . .] Pour le servir tout le monde est empesché, 
. . . (QL, LVn, 210); ainsi, en associant le "parler par signes" à Gaster, Rabelais 
semble accorder à ce langage un véritable statut privilégié. Le narrateur 
souligne clairement la supériorité de l'efficacité des signes de Gaster qui 
provoquent une réaction plus prompte et plus franche que le langage articulé 
— "editz" et "mandemens" — d'hommes pourtant également en position de 
pouvoir: "Praeteurs" et "Roys." D'autres passages traitant de l'efficience du 
langage des sourds-muets viennent appuyer cette idée chez Rabelais: entre autres, 
cette anecdote, rapportée par Pantagruel au sujet de Tyridates, "roy de Arménie," 
qui lors d' une visite à Rome se vit accorder par l' empereur Néron de se choisir lui- 
même un présent parmi ce qui lui plairait le plus dans cette ville: 

[. . ,] Il demanda seulement un joueur de farces, lequel il avoit veu on theatre, 
et, ne entendent ce qu'il disoit, entendoit ce qu'il exprimoit par signes et 
gesticulations; alléguant que soubs sa domination GSioïent peuples de divers 
languaiges, pour es quelz respondre et parler luy convenoit user de plusieurs 
truchemens: il seul à tous suffiroit. 

(r/, XIX, 480-481) 

Montaigne s'inspire lui aussi de l'exemple des muets pour préparer son 
éloge de "l'éloquence efficace" du geste:^^ "nos muets disputent, argumentent 
et content des histoires par signes [. . .] J'en ay vu de si soupples et formez à 
cela, qu'à la vérité il ne leur manquoit rien à la perfection de se faire entendre" 
(n, xii, 454 A). Après quoi, Montaigne nous parle du langage des yeux (des 
amoureux), pour se lancer dans une enumeration qu' on a dite parfois homérique, 
parfois rabelaisienne, et qui s' amorce par le fameux "Quoy des mains?" (II, xii, 
454C): enumeration de verbes d'action qui tous, encore une fois, impliquent 
un acte de communication, une interaction avec autrui ("requérons, promettons, 
appelions, congédions"), autant de verbes performatifs qui constituent l'essentiel 
de cette liste. Puis, Montaigne met fin à cet élan par une espèce de profession 
de foi dans le langage gestuel: "Il n'est mouvement qui ne parle et un langage 
intelligible sans discipline et un langage publique: qui faict, voyant la variété 
et usage distingué des autres, que cestuy cy doibt plus tost estre jugé le propre 
de l'humaine nature" (II, xii, 454C). 

D nous faut alors insister sur l'expression "sans discipline" qui nous amène 
à traiter de la rhétorique et de la méfiance de Rabelais et de Montaigne à son égard, 
méfiance qui apparaît comme une autre motivation dans leur prédilection pour le 
langage du geste. Dans le chapitre "De l'institution des enfans," Montaigne nous 
met en garde contre cette traîtresse des conceptions: "L'éloquence fait injure aux 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 31 

choses, qui nous destoume à soy" (I, xxvi, 172C); ou encore, "Et de combien est 
le langage faux moins sociable que le silence" (I, ix, 37B). Ainsi, la diversité des 
langues du mythe babélien ne préoccupe par l'essayiste autant que le "masque et 
fard" des "escholes de la parlerie" (IQ, viii, 927B). Il privilégie donc ce qu'il 
appelle avec originalité le "taire parlier" (H, xii, 454B): 

[B] Un ambassadeur de la ville d' Abdere, après avoir longuement parlé au 
Roy Agis de Sparte, luy demanda: Et bien, Sire, quelle responce veux-tu que 
je rapporte à nos citoyens? — Que je t'ay laissé dire tout ce que tu as voulu, 
et tant que tu as voulu, sans jamais dire mot. Voilà pas un taire parlier et bien 

(H, xii, 454B) 

Le langage gestuel qui intéresse Montaigne sera celui qui est le plus naturel, 
le plus "vrai." C'est pourquoi à la fm de l'énumération d'actions trouvée dans 
r"Apologie," l'essayiste prend bien soin d'établir une distinction entre deux 
catégories de gestes: 

Je laisse à part ce que particulièrement la nécessité en apprend soudain à 
ceux qui en ont besoing et les alphabets des doigts et grammaires en gestes, 
et les sciences qui ne s'exercent et expriment que par iceux, et les nations que 
Pline dit n'avoir point d'autre langue. 

(II, xii, 454) 

Montaigne s'arrête ici sur le fait qu'il existe certains langages gestuels aussi 
codés que l'est le langage de la rhétorique,^^ et qui perdent, de ce fait, leur 
valeur de langage "naturels."^^ Rabelais démontrera la même volonté de 
présever au geste son caractère le plus pur possible; c'est de cette volonté que 
procède le conseil de Pantagruel à Panurge sur la consultation d'un muet: 
"Pourtant vous fault choisir un mut sourd de nature, affin que ses gestes et 
signes vous soient naïvement propheticques, non faincts, fardez, ne affectez" 
iJL, XIX, 481). Par ce biais, Nazdecabre s'oppose directement à Thaumaste 
(P, XVIII et XIX) dont le nom — qui en hébreu signifie "maître du signe" — 
annonce déjà un personnage d'une habileté sophistiquée, "grand clerc" qui 
apparaît évidemment comme une sorte de rhétoricien du geste. En effet, sa 
performance gestuelle est explicitement présentée comme une argumentation: 
le titre annonce "l'Angloys qui arguoit par signe." La prestation est donc 
nécessairement réglée selon les exigences du genre, ici le débat, règles dont 
Thaumaste avait pourt2int signifié vouloir se libérer.^^ 

Un autre exemple vient appuyer cette hypothèse qui, selon le texte 
rabelaisien, opposerait la concrétude du geste au "vent de la rhétorique," soit 
cette scène du Tiers Livre où le "fol" Triboullet offre une réponse des plus 

32 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

concrètes et des plus corporelles à Texposé tout "en parolles rhétoriques et 
élégantes" (TL, XLV, 588) de Panurge: 

Davant qu'il eust achevé, Triboullet luy bailla un grand coup de poing entre 
les deux espaules, luy rendirt en main la bouteille, le nazardoit avecques la 
vessie de porc, et pour toute response luy dist, branslant bien fort la teste: 
"Par Dieu, Dieu, fol enraigé, guare moine! cornemuse de Buzançay!" 

(7L, XLV, 588-589) 

À l'élégance des paroles de Panurge, Triboullet répond par le geste brut, n'y 
ajoutant qu'une verbalisation minimale, qui restera d'ailleurs énigmatique et 
incompréhensible à son interlocuteur. Mais, alors que la rhétorique produit ses 
effets en n' interpelant de façon discriminatoire — et cela presque 
pernicieusement — qu'une seule partie du corps, qu'un seul sens de chacun des 
interlocuteurs, soit l'ouïe^^ du côté du récepteur, et la parole du côté de 
l'émetteur, le geste, quant à lui, s'inscrit dans une corporéité plus homogène, 
plus généralisée, et qui semble plus naturelle, comme c'est le cas dans cette 
scène avec le fou. Ainsi, on remarque que les gestes de Triboullet sont à ce 
point directionnels qu'ils impliquent même un contact physique entre l'émetteur 
et le récepteur des signes. Triboullet engage son corps tout entier dans sa 
réponse pour échanger physiquement avec Panurge, ce qui oblige ce dernier 
à réagir, lui aussi, corporellement. Le geste de Triboullet qui consiste à 
"prendre en main la bouteille" nécessite de Panurge qu'il la "prenne en main" 
à son tour: il y a réciprocité réelle, interaction complète. Or, c'est justement à 
ce signe que Panurge portera la plus grande considération, lui attribuant un 
"plus hault sens" essentiel: "Voy cy bien un aultre poinct, lequel ne considérez; 
est toutesfoys le neu de la matière. Il m'a rendu en main la bouteille. Cela, que 
signifie? Qu'est-ce à dire?" (7L, XLVn, 593); et Panurge y verra un (r)appel à la 
quête du mot de la Dive Bouteille: "l'unicque non lunaticque Triboullet, me 
remect à la bouteille" (TL, XLVn, 594). Invitation différée au 'Trinch," acte de 
communication par excellence. Car le mot de la Dive Bouteille est un geste. 


Ces diverses considérations nous invitent à tenter une énième interprétation 
des chapitres LV et LVI du Quart Livre, dits "Des paroles gelées,"^"* où nous 
croyons percevoir une autre apologie du geste par Rabelais. 

Ce phénomène de "gens parlant en l'air," de "voix diverses en l'air" 
pourrait être interprété comme retirant au "vent de la rhétorique," et renverrait 
donc à cette idée de l'inutilité du langage verbal que nous avons développée 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 33 

ci-avant. De plus, durant tout le premier chapitre, ces paroles ne sont 
qu'entendues; jamais on ne les voit, ni ne les touche. C'est donc le sens de 
l'ouïe qui y est presque exclusivement sollicité, comme dans la rhétorique. Et, 
comme nous l'avions également remarqué à propos toujours de cet art de 
r éloquence, la puissance du "verbe" qui frappe l' oreille peut produire de fortes 
impressions sur la "créance" de l'homme, sujet, nous disait Montaigne, à être 
mené par les oreilles. Ici, les auditeurs de l'événement se montrent d'abord 
inquiets, puis véritablement effrayés, Panurge cédant même à une certaine 
panique; leur effroi augmente proportionnellement à l'intensité avec laquelle 
les voix sonnent aux oreilles des compagnons, ce qui coïncide d'ailleurs avec 
un plus grand effort de leur part pour ouïr ces paroles: "Plus persévérions 
escoutant, plus discernions les voix, jusques à entendre motz entiers. Ce que 
nous effraya grandement" (QL, LV, 203). 

Or, le deuxième chapitre s'ouvre sur l'explication informée du pilote qui 
amène une certaine accalmie à bord: "Seigneur, de rien ne vous effrayez." 
Cependant, la meilleure façon de rassurer tous et chacun est de rendre ces 
paroles visibles: "Par Dieu, dist Panurge, je l'en croy. Mais en pourrions nous 
veoir quelq'une. Me soub vient avoir leu que, l'orée de la montaigne en laquelle 
Moses receut la loy des Juifz, le peuple voyait les voix sensiblement" (QL, 
LVI, 206). Requête à laquelle Pantagruel répond immédiatement: "Tenez, 
tenez, [. . .] voyez en cy qui encore ne sont dégelées," sonnant ainsi le début 
d'une multiplication d'actes divers qui contribueront à mettre les auditeurs en 
contact physique plus étroit avec le phénomène. 

Pantagruel prend les paroles gelées à "plenes mains" et les jette sur le pont. 
C'est d'abord une fête pour les yeux qui peuvent se réjouir dans la contempla- 
tion de la richesse des couleurs qui s 'offrent à eux: "et sembloient dragée perlée 
de diverses couleurs. Nous y veismes des motz de gueule, des motz de sinople, 
des motz de azur, des motz de sable, des motz dorez" {QL, LVI, 206). Et, très 
vite, les compagnons répondant au geste de Pantagruel prennent à leur tour les 
voix, les manipulent à leur gré, les touchent à plaisir. Or, ce geste du maniement 
des voix provoque leur dégel, les rendant à nouveau audibles: "Les quelz, estre 
quelque peu eschauffez entre nos mains, fondoient comme neiges, et les oyons 
realement, mais ne les entendions, car c'estoit languaige barbare" (QL, LVI, 
206). Mais plus encore que le simple fait de les rendre à leur état sonore, c'est 
une souplesse essentielle que leur confère le contact des mains, leur permettant 
de vivre d'un nouveau souffle dans une forme neuve: "[. . .] Puys en ouysmes 
d'aultres grosses, et rendoient son en dégelant, les unes comme de tabours et 
fifres, les aultres comme de clerons et trompettes. Croyez que nous eusmes du 

34 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

passetemps beaucoup" (QL, LVI, 207). Les mains des compagnons pétrissent 
les voix à la manière de Pygmalion qui anime Galatée: 

Tentatum mollescit ebur, positoque rigore 
Subsedit digitis^^ 

On assiste dès lors à un déploiement, à une explosion ludique des voix à 
travers les multiples interprétations des "actes de paroles" divers que Pantagruel 
se plaît à passer en revue en réponse aux requêtes de Panurge qui veut encore 
et encore qu'on lui donne de ces voix: 

Pantagruel luy respondit que donner parolles estoit acte des amoureux. 
Vendez m'en doncques, disoit Panurge. — C'est acte de advocatz, respondit 
Pantagruel, vendre parolles. Je vous vendroys plus tost silence et plus 
chèrement, ^^ ainsi que quelques foys la vendit Demosthenes, nioyennant son 
argentangine {QL, LVI, 207). 

Puis, lorsque le narrateur dit vouloir conserver quelques paroles gelées 
"dedans de Thuille," Pantagruel l'en empêche: "disant estre follie faire reserve 
de ce dont jamais l'on a faulte et que tous jours on a en main, comme sont motz 
de gueule entre tous bons et joyeulx Pantagruelistes (QL, LVI, 207-208), 
soulignant ainsi que ces voix ne prennent leur sens que dans l' agir, dans le geste 
"que tous jours on a en main," et dans l' acte de communication "entre tous bons 
et joyeulx Pantagruelistes." Enfin, comme pour illustrer concrètement ces 
derniers propos, le narrateur nous fait assister à ce qu'on pourrait appeler une 
petite "prise de mot" entre Panurge et Frère Jean: 

Là, Panurge fascha quelque peu Frère Jan et le feist entrer en resverie, car 
il le vous print au mot sus l'instant qu'il ne s'en doutoit mie, et Frère Jan 
menassa de l'en faire repentir [. . .] et, advenent qu'il feust marié, le prendre 
aux cornes comme un veau, puysqu'il l'avoit prins au mot comme un home" 
{QL, LVI, 208). 

Dispute, dont l'argument final sera, bien sûr, un geste: "Panurge luy feist la 
babou, en signe de derision". . . 

Université McGill 

1. "Le silence même sait prier et se faire entendre," cité par Montaigne dans les Essais, éd. 
Pierre Villey (Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1988), II, xii, 454A. Désormais, les 
références aux Essais suivront immédiatement chacune des citations. Elles comporteront 
les indications du livre, du chapitre, de la page et de la couche du texte. À moins d' indications 
contraires, c'est nous qui soulignons. 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 35 

2. La réflexion sur le langage à la Renaissance n'échappe pas à cette tendance, ce que Richard 
Waswo déplore ajuste titre dans son ouvrage Language and Meaning in the Renaissance 
(Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1987). "[We have] to recognize in these discussions 
the persistence of false oppositions that echo back to the Renaissance and beyond: ancient 
versus modern, words versus matter, aesthetic appreciation versus historical knowledge. 
[. . .] The perception of difference, by which we know all things, is mistaken for antagonism: 
the ancient is only knowable in terms of the modem, and vice versa. Words do not exclude 
the 'matter' they are often said to express, they bring that 'matter' into consciousness" (pp. 
299-3(X)). Cet ouvrage s'inscrit dans une suite d'importantes études qui ont fait le point, ces 
dernières années, sur la question du langage dans la pensée renaissante: Claude-Gilbert 
Dubois, Mythe et langage au seizième siècle (Bordeaux, Ducros, 1 970); Barbara C. Bowen, 
Words and the Man in French Renaissance Literature (Lexington, French Forum, 1983); 
et enfin, l'étude la plus récente, et sans aucun doute la plus complète, celle de Marie-Luce 
Demonet, Les voix du signe. Nature et origine du langage à la Renaissance (1480-1580) 
(Paris, Honoré Champion, 1992). 

3. "Avant-propos" de la réédition du Dictionnaire raisonné des onomatopées françaises de 
Charles Nodier (Maurezin, Trans-Europ-Repress, 1984 [1868]), 13-104. 

4. Henri Meschonnic, loc. cit., p. 47. Cf. Wilhem von Humboldt: "Historiquement nous 
n'avons jamais affaire qu'avec l'homme réellement en train de parler," Ueber die 
Verschiedenheit des menschilichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einfluss auf die geistige 
Entwicklung des Menschengesschlechts, Werke (Stuttgart, Cottasche Buchhandlung, 1 963), 
t. 3, p. 415. 

5. Claude-Gilbert Dubois, compte rendu de Marie-Luce Demonet, Les voix du signe . . ., dans 
Renaissance et Réforme, XVIII, 1 (1994), p. 87. 

6. Cf. John McClelland, "Le corps et ses signes: aspects de la sémiotique gestuelle à la 
Renaissance," dans Le corps à la Renaissance. Actes du XXX' colloque de Tours [2-11 
juillet] 1987, sous la dir. de Jean Céard, Marie-Madeleine Fontaine et Jean-Claude Margolin 
(Paris, Aux Amateurs de Livres, 1990), 267-278. 

7. Sur toute cette question des sources antiques de la réflexion sur le geste, et sur leurs 
influences dans le traitement du geste à la Renaissance, cf. Marie-Luce Demonet, Les voix 
du signe, 487-536, ainsi que l'article du même auteur: "Du désir de nommer ou le rôle du 
corps dans la première nomination et la place de la conception épicurienne du langage au 
XVP siècle," dans Le corps à la Renaissance, 253-266. 

8. François Rabelais, Gargantua, chapitre LVII, dans Oeuvres complètes, 1. 1 (Paris, Classiques 
Gamier, 1962), p. 203. Désormais, les références à l'oeuvre de Rabelais suivront 
immédiatement les citations; elles comporteront les indications du livre, du chapitre et de 
la page. 

9. Cf. à ce sujet Diane Desrosiers-Bonin, Rabelais et l'humanisme civil, chapitre 3, "L'agir: 
un impératif éthique" (Genève, Droz, 1992), 128-141. Diane Desrosiers-Bonin y rappelle 
que la critique de Gargantua à l'endroit des moines ressortit à une éthique, puisqu'il ne 
méprise véritablement qu'un seul trait des moines, soit leur inactivité: "ils n'exercent 
aucune activité utile et profitable"; son fils Pantagmel posera le même regard sur la conduite 
des Gastrolâtres: ils sont "ocieux, rien ne faisans, poinct ne travaillant, poys et charge inutile 

36 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

de la terre" (QL, LVIII, 738). Chez Montaigne, cette éthique de l'agir et de l'utile est 
perceptible en maints lieux de sa réflexion, notamment dans le chapitre "De l'institution des 
enfants," où l'essayiste conclut que "le guain de nostre étude, c'est en estre devenu meilleur 
et plus sage" (I, xxvi, 152C). 

10. Cf Michel Jeanneret: "L'autorité des maîtres scolastiques de Gargantua tient à la pratique 
mécanique de l'écriture et de la lecture: régime abstrait et stérile où l'enfant, privé de 
dialogue, s'englue et 'en devenoit fou, niays, tout resveux et rassoté'", "Rabelais et 
Montaigne: l'écriture comme parole," L'Esprit Créateur, XVI, 4 (1976), p. 89. 

11. Cf MichelJeanneret, loc. cit: "c'est autour d'une table, dans l'abondance d'un banquet, que 
l'échange oral s'accomplit le plus pleinement" (p. 90). 

12. Cf Richard Waswo, Op. cit.: "As Montaigne perceived, the endless glossing of books by 
books, the whole history of interpretation, demonstrates that language is neither a garment 
nor a pipeline, but an activity. The use of words collectively and individually constitutes 
their meanings, which must therefore be constructed by speakers and texts and recon- 
structed by listeners and readers. No better analogy for the semantic transaction has yet 
been offered than Montaigne's tennis game, in which victory — making sense — is always 
possible but never guaranteed and never permanent" (pp. 292-293). 

1 3. J'emprunte cette expression signifiante à Claude Blum qui l'emploie à propos de Montaigne 
et la définit en ces termes: "[cette sémiotique] inclut dans le mouvement de sa représentation 
tous les développements concernant l'expérience et les sens, signes aussi des choses": "Les 
Essais de Montaigne: les signes, la politique, la religion," Columbia Montaigne Conference 
Papers (Lexington, French Forum, 1981), p. 16. 

14. Marie-Luce Demonet, Les voix du signe, p. 293. 

15. Cf Richard Waswo, Op. cit., pp. 285 et 288. 

16. Cf. l'article de Marie-Luce Demonet-Launay, "Question doubteuse: le langage," B.S.A.M. , 
6' série, 15-16 (1983), p. 13. 

17. Les avis des critiques sont très partagés à cet égard; le débat est richissime et nous ne citerons 
ici que quelques positions représentatives des tendances générales sur ce sujet. Cf entre 
autres, H.-H. Ehrlich, Montaigne: la critique et le langage (Paris, Klincksieck, 1972), p. 72; 
Jean Paris, Rabelais au futur (Paris, Seuil, 1970), pp. 95 ssq.; Gérard Defaux, Marot, 
Rabelais, Montaigne, l'écriture comme présence (Pans/GQnbve,Chsimpion/S\a.tkme, 1987) 
et Marie-Luce Demonet, Les voix du signe, p. 576, et "Si les signes vous fâchent . . .": 
inference naturelle et sciences des signes à la Renaissance," L'Humanisme, la Réforme et 
la Renaissance, 20, no 38 (1994). Nous renvoyons également à d'autres études plus 
spécifiques sur le sujet, d'abord chez Rabelais: Albert Chesneau, "Un point de sémiologie 
pantagruélique: problèmes et valeur du langage par signes selon Rabelais," Bulletin des 
Jeunes Romanistes, 17 (1970), 35-43; François Rigolot, "Cratylisme et Pantagruélisme: 
Rabelais et le statut du signe," Études Rabelaisiennes, XIII, CXLIV ( 1 976), 115-132; Pierre 
Goumarre, "Rabelais entre le signe et le symbole," Les Amis de Rabelais et de La Devinière, 
IV, 4 (1985), 127-131; Michelle Huchon, "Variations rabelaisiennes sur l'imposition du 
nom," Prose et prosateurs de la Renaissance (Paris, 1988), 93-100; et Michel Jeanneret, 
"Rabelais, les monstres et l'interprétation des signes (Quart Livre 18-42), Writing the 

Guylaine Fontaine / Du "conseil des muetz" au "taire parlier" / 37 

Renaissance: Essays on Sixteenth-Century French Literature in Honor of Floyd Gray, soys 
la dir. de Raymond C. La Charité (Lexington, French Forum, 1992), 65-76. Enfin, chez 
Montaigne: Antoine Compagnon, Nous, Michel de Montaigne (Paris, Seuil, 1980); François 
Rigolot, "Le langage des Essais, référentiel ou mimologique?," CAIEF, 33 ( 1 98 1 ), 1 9-34; Zoé 
Samaras, "Montaigne et Platon: la philosophie du langage," Montaigne, penseur et philosophe 
(1588-1988), sous la direction de Claude Blum (Paris, Champion, 1990), 31-43; et Marie- 
Luce Demonet-Launay, "Le 'corps aëree de la voix'", BA.S.M., 21-22 (1990), 59-68. 

18. Claude Blum explique à ce sujet la pensée de Montaigne qui est "aux antipodes d'une 
attitude nominaliste; en soutenant l'arbitraire des signes puis en rattachant la production des 
signifiés à l' esprit de l' homme, et à son corps, Montaigne emprunte au [. . .] conceptualisme." 
loc. cit., p. 17. 

19. Marie-Luce Demonet, Les voix du signe, p. 293. 

20. Marie-Luce Demonet, "Question doubteuse," p. 13. 

21. Cf. Demonet à propos de Montaigne: "Il y a incompatibiUté totale entre la théorie 
traditionnelle de l' imposition des noms (que ce soit immédiatement par Dieu ou médiatement » , 
par les hommes) et l'observation du mouvement du monde et des hommes. Il faut donc qu 'il 
existe un signe qui soit en relation de cohérence avec la réalité, sans prétendre l 'imiter, qui 
vienne d'elle et de l'homme: c'est le geste. [. . .] À la question ontologique du langage 
Montaigne répond par la paléontologie: au commencement était le geste" ("Question 
doubteuse," p. 30). 

22. Marie-Luce Demonet-Launay, "Les mains du texte ou le dernier geste de Montaigne," 
Nouvelle Revue du Seizième Siècle, 7 (1989), p. 69. 

23. Cf. Demonet, Les voix du signe, p. 487. 

24. "C'est à peu près de la même manière que l'on voit les enfants conduits au langage des gestes 
par l'impuissance de leur langue" (Lucrèce, V, 1029). 

25. "En sorte que pour l'homme un étranger n'est pas un homme" (Pline, Histoire naturelle, VII, 

26. Eva Kushner ("Gesture in the Work of Rabelais," /?enû!W5anc^e//?e/brwe,X, 1 [1986], 67- 
77) fait une interprétation semblable du célèbre passage du Prologue de Gargantua où 
Rabelais décrit le comportement de ce "chien rencontrant quelque os medullare" (G, p. 7). 

27. Nous empruntons cette expression à Géralde Nakam qui signait, en 1991, un petit article 
haut en image au titre tout simple: "Études de mains (La main dans les Essais)," dans L 'esprit 
et la lettre. Mélanges offerts à Jules Brody, sous la dir. de Louis van Delft (Tubingen, Gunter 
Narr Verlag, 1991). L'article est repris dans Montaigne. La manière et la matière (Paris, 
KHncksieck, 1991). 

28. Géralde Nakam a répertorié "quarante-sept actions pour les mains, vingt-et-une expressions 
pour la tête" {Montaigne. La manière et la matière, p. 195). Cf. également Demonet, "Les 
mains du texte." 

29. Cf. QL, LXIII, 233-234. 

38 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

30. À cet égard, nous nous dissocions de l'interprétation de Géralde Nakam selon laquelle 
"Montaigne conclu[t] avec enthousiasme sur 'les alphabets des doigts et grammaires en 
gestes' qui en remontreraient à la plus savante des linguistiques" {Montaigne. La manière 
et la matière, p. 1 96). Nous entérinons plutôt la lecture de Montaigne faite par Demonet: "Le 
'je laisse à part' par lequel il renvoie "les alphabets des doigts et grammaires en gestes" n'est 
pas une simple prétention, mais une exclusion de tout langage gestuel codé" ("Les mains 
du texte," p. 67). 

31. La rhétorique elle-même, dans sa quatrième partie {actio), procède justement à une 
codification des gestes et de la contenance de l'orateur; il est également intéressant de 
rappeler que cette partie de l'art de l'éloquence était nommée par les Grecs: imÔKpiaiç, ce 
qui signifîait à la fois, "action de jouer un rôle, un personnage, jeu de l'acteur, action 
oratoire" et au figuré "rôle, faux semblant, hypocrisie." 

32. "Je ne veulx disputer pro et contra, comme font ces sotz sophistes [. . .] semblablement, je 
ne veulx disputer en la manière des académiques par déclamation [. . .] mais je veulx disputer 
par signes seulement" {P, XVIII, 257). 

33. Pensons à Messere Gaster, qui du fait de n'avoir pas d'oreilles semble justement protégé 
contre ce vent de la rhétorique: "A luy on ne peut rien faire croyre, rien remonstrer, rien 
persuader. Il ne oyt poinct" {QL, LVII, 209). Montaigne avait aussi remarqué ce pouvoir de 
l'oralité: "D'autant plus que l'ame est plus vuide et sans contrepoids, elle se baisse plus 
facilement souz la charge de la premiere persuasion. [A] Voilà pourquoy les enfans, le 
vulgaire, les femmes et les malades sont plus subjects à estre menezpar les oreilles'' (I, xxvii, 

34. Sur ce débat avivé, cf. Jean Guiton, "Le mythe des paroles gelées (Rabelais, Quart Livre, 
LV-LVI)," Romanic eview, XXXI, 1 (1940), 3-15; Verdun L. Saulnier, "Le silence de 
Rabelais et le mythe des paroles gelées," dans François Rabelais. Ouvrage publié pour le 
quatrième centenaire de sa mort, 1553-1953 (Genève/Lille, Droz/Giard, 1953), 233-247; 
Jean- Yves Pouilloux, "Notes sur deux chapitres du Quart Livre, LV-LVI," Littérature, 5 
(1972), 88-94; Michel Jeanneret, "Les paroles dégelées: Rabelais {Quart Livre, 48-65)," 
Littérature, 17 (1975), 14-30, et du même auteur, "Quand la fable se met à table: nourriture 
et structure narrative dans le Quart Livre," Poétique, 54 (1983), 163-180; André Toumon, 
"De l'interprétation des 'motz de gueule.' Note sur les chapitre LV-LVI du Quart Livre du 
Pantagruel." dans Hommage à François Meyer (Aix-en-Provence, Publications de 
l'Université de Provence, 1983), 145-153; et GErard Defaux, "À propos de paroles gelées 
et dégelées {Quart Livre, 55-56): 'plus hault sens' ou 'lectures plurielles'", dans Rabelais 's 
Incomparable Book. Essays on his Art, sous la dir. de Raymond C. La Charité (Lexington, 
French Forum, 1986), 155-177, article repris sous le titre "Vers une définition 
del 'herméneutique rabelaisienne: Pantagruel, l'esprit, la lettre et les paroles gelées," Études 
Rabelaisiennes, XXI, CCXXV, 327-337. 

35. C'est Montaigne qui cite ce passage: "Il touche l'ivoire qui, perdant sa dureté, s'amollit et 
cède sous ses doigts" (Ovide, Métamorphoses, x, 283). Cf Essais, II, vii, 402. 

36. Nous sera-t-il permis de voir à nouveau dans cette mention de la valeur du silence la 
condamnation de la rhétorique (des avocats du moins) et, par ricochet, un nouvel éloge du 

Celebrations held in Siena 
during the Government of 

the Nine 






Summary: In fourteenth-century Siena the government of the Nine functioned 
very much within alliances with the leading Guelf powers. This article studies 
celebrations of Guelf victories in Siena, as depicted in the famous castle cycle 
of the Palazzo Pubblico and described in the writings of Benvoglienti. 


arious Sienese sources, including chronicles, archival documents, and 
manuscripts, record celebrations in Siena for military victories during the 
government of the Nine (1287-1355). Some of these victory celebrations 
conmiemorate specific Sienese successes in expanding control and jurisdic- 
tion over the surrounding countryside. Such expansion, begun long before the 
Nine came to power, tended to provide a degree of military and economic 
security to the City of Siena itself. 

Although Siena is often thought of as a Ghibelline city — perhaps to a large 
degree because of the famous victory over the Florentines at Monteperti in 1260 
— the government of the Nine functioned within Guelf constitutions and within 
alliances with the leading Guelf powers of the time. This situation has led, 
understandably, to comments about the ideological nature of Sienese Guelfism as 
compared to its pragmatic nature, and also compared to Florentine Guelfism. For 
example, the foremost historian of the Nine, William Bowsky, writes: "Sienese 
involvements with the taglie were practical and pragmatic, not ideological. 
Guelfism did not contain the political magic in Siena that it did in Florence . . . 
Sienese Guelfism was of more recent vintage and more dubious heritage. Siena's 
glories dated from an epoch of Ghibelline mle. . ."* He further writes: 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 1 (1995) /39 

40 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Guelfism in the Siena of the Nine, then, was not a major issue. On the whole, 
the government trod Hghtly in this area and thus was not hkely to be 
stampeded into foolish courses of action 'after loud beating of the Guelf 
drums,' or to send huge contingents into the taglie for purely ideological 

On the other hand, Bowsky also states: "Great noble families such as the 
Tolomei, Malavolti, and Salimbeni converted to Guelfism, largely so as to 
maintain their international banking and commercial positions."^ 

In fact, this historical condition of a relatively brusque and somewhat 
abrupt "conversion" to Guelfism on the part of the Sienese, in contrast to the 
long, firmly established tradition of Guelfism in Florence, might well have led, 
at least temporarily, to a situation of ideological ambivalence. Furthermore, 
Siena was not a major political or military power, but instead, an entity within 
a larger framework of more powerful forces. In such a case, there might well 
have been an awareness among the Sienese under the Nine that the present 
alliances with the pope and an Angevin king might change back again to 
renewed alliance with an emperor (as actually happened in 1355). Such a 
situation might have augmented ideological ambivalence. 

Perhaps an example of ideological ambivalence might be found in the 
meaning and contents of the inscriptions on the famous Maesîà painted in the 
Siena Palazzo Pubblico. According to Benvoglienti, Siena might once have 
been in a position of "submission" to the Angevins: "La città di Siena era sotto 
la protezione del Re di Napoli se non sottoposta nel 1276 perché il Podestà di 
Siena si dice podestà per grazie di Dio e del Re.""* In fact, the "giglio" of the 
Angevins is depicted throughout the decoration of part of the baldachin in the 
fresco of the Palazzo Pubblico Maestà in Siena. But how does the presence of 
this apparent Angevin heraldry fit in with the provisions in the Sienese Statuti 
that indicated an aversion to coats of arms being painted in public buildings, 
or on public fountains or gates? Were the painted "gigli" in effect an imposition 
that was reluctantly accepted by the Sienese, particularly in view of the role of 
the Madonna in protecting Siena at the battle of Monteperti?^ In this regard, 
could certain parts of the Maestà inscription be a not so subtle message against 
the Angevins' trying to pry into, and gain control of, too much of Siena's 
autonomy as a free commune? For instance, in the line "L'angelichi fiorecti 
rose e gigli," could the words "angelichi" and "gigli" refer to the Angevins? 
Certainly an iconographical reference is not lacking. And who does ". . . chi 
per proprio stato disprezza me e la mia terra inganna" refer to?^ 

At this point, a question might be raised as to whether it is really possible, 

Gordon Moran & Michael Mallory / Celebrations held in Siena / 41 

after all, to separate — in a clear manner — strong alliances of a pragmatic and 
diplomatic nature from ideological purity, or to determine how great successes 
in banking and commercial ventures might have colored the ideological leanings 
of the recently "converted" Sienese noble families. Perhaps the ideological make- 
up of the Sienese leaders during the government of the Nine wavered between the 
parameters of practical necessity — if not opportunism — on one hand, and wistful 
and nostalgic looking back to the good old days of the Monteperti era on the other 
hand. Within this situation there was also the "ideological" desire to maintain 
Siena as an autonomous city state, allied with, but not subjugated to, other powers. 
How much was ideology tempered by opportunism if the Guelf alliances were the 
most effective means, during a particular time, to attain submission and control of 
important castles in the Sienese contadol 

Whatever the elusive answers may be to these questions regarding 
ideology, the political and military commitments of the government of the 
Nine to the Guelf powers were strong. Ghibellines could not be members of the 
Nine, nor hold office. Ghibellines were also described as enemies of Siena. 
Siena also took part in military pacts which entailed providing Guelf military 
forces composed of troops and supplies from various Guelf cities. Guelf 
military victories were marked by celebrations in Siena. 

It is interesting to note that celebrations in Siena to honor Guelf victories 
included those victories that resulted in an expansion of Siena's jurisdiction 
over castles in the Sienese countryside. Although the castles depicted in the 
famous castle cycle in the Siena Palazzo Pubblico were apparently limited to 
those that swore submission to Siena, celebrations were also held in Siena for 
Guelf victories that took place far beyond Sienese territory. 

It seems that the celebrations themselves included presenting a green robe 
or toga to the persons who brought news of the victories, and also included 
illuminations of the towers of the Palazzo Pubblico, Palazzo del Podestà, the 
church tower of the Duomo, etc. Sienese chronicles report some of these 
victory celebrations, exemplified by the following description for the year 
1306: E Sanesi ferô gran festa del la sopradetta vettoria e furo vestii piu di X 
messi dal comune, che recoro le novelle."^ 

Perhaps an even richer source for Guelf victory celebrations is found 
among the unpublished manuscripts of Benvoglienti. His research is based on 
archival documents, some of which are lost or no longer exist (a situation 
which makes part of his research all the more important). A selection from 
Benvoglienti serves to illustrate how Siena celebrated Guelf military victories 
that took place in cities far away from Sienese territory. 

42 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

(1305) Si fece allegrizza per il fatto di Pistoia. 

Si pagano 1 8 denari per ciascuno a quattro persone, le quale fecero Fanone 
sopra il Campanile della Chiesa maggiore per cagione della vittoria della 
citta di Pistoia. 

(1310) Si paga il valore di una gonella che fu dato al messo che areco la 
nuova che il Comune di Bologna hebbe Docia. 

(1310) Si pagano lire 7. 1 3 .6 in una robba che fu dato a uno, che venne di 
Bologna con la novella di Ferrara. 

(1310) Si pagano 8 soldi a quattro huomini che stetterô nella torre de 
Mignanelli a far falo della novella che vennero che quelli di Todi furono 

(1311) Si pagano lire 6 e soldi 22 per due gonelle fomite et un cappuccio 
ad arme del Comune di Siena, che furono date al messo che da Bologna recô 
la nuova di Piacenza. 

(1311) Si pagano lire 6.6.6 due gonelle a due messe, uno de quali recô le 
novelle di Padova, e I'altro le novelle della sconfitta di Spoleto. 

Si danno 4 soldi a due huomini che facesse falo della sconfitta delli Spoletini. 

Si pagano lire 8 per una robba fomita cioe gonella, guamaccia, e capuccio 
fomiti al arme del Comune di Siena, la quale robbe si diede al messo che da 
Perugia recô la nuova della sconfitta de Ghibellini di Spoleto. 

(1314) Si pagano lire 7.8 per due gonnelle date a due messe, che portarono 
nuove da Ancona come i Ghibellini erano stati sconfitti. 

(1318) fii fatto falo per le buone nuove di Genova.* 

In his article, Joseph Polzer suggested that some of the castles depicted in 
the famous castle cycle in the Siena Palazzo Pubblico were painted in time for 
a sort of official unveiling during the victory celebrations that marked their 
conquests: ". . . the Sienese government intended to have these conquered 
towns depicted even before the cessation of hostilities. There could have been 
but one purpose intended: that these frescoes should have been ready for 
display at the celebration of the triumph."^ There seems to be no doubt that the 
paintings of newly acquired castles were part of the commemoration of the 
conquests (or acquisitions, in some cases) of these castles, but the evidence 
suggests to us that Polzer' s hypothesis does not hold up regarding the relative 
timing of events. Simone Martini was paid for painting the castles of Arcidosso 
and Castel del Piano together about four months after Arcidosso surrendered, 
while Benvoglienti points out that the Sienese government paid for "Panne 

Gordon Moran & Michael Mallory / Celebrations held in Siena / 43 

verde" for the persons who brought news of the victory over the "Conti di S. 
Fiore" in 1331.*^ Simone Martini was paid for painting Montemassi and 
Sassoforte together in 1330. Montemassi, however, surrendered to Siena in 
August 1328, and Benvoglienti notes that in 1328, "Si fece falo . . . per 
I'acquisto di Montemassi."^* 

In a discussion of Sienese political pictorial art, Bowsky expressed 
sadness that we no longer see all the paintings commissioned by the Nine: "It 
is sad that we do not have even descriptions of others of the palazzo pictures, 
long since destroyed. . ."^^ At about the same time that these words of Bowsky 
were being printed, one of the paintings from the castle cycle (perhaps 
Arcidosso, painted by Simone Martini in 1331, even though the castle is 
"officially" recognized as representing Giuncarico) was being uncovered, 
setting off another "celebration" in Siena and the art world in honor of its 
"reconquest" and "unveiling" by the restorers. Further discoveries of paintings 
in this famous cycle seem possible, if not probable or inevitable, some time in 
the future. Max Seidel, a member of the official commission appointed by the 
mayor of Siena to study the fresco depicting a castle that was uncovered in 
1980-1981, has written (in the official report) that another fresco surely 
("sicuramente") exists beneath part of the famous Guido Riccio fresco.*^ And, 
more recently, Alexandra Miletta writes that technical tests conducted by 
Maurizio Seracini indicate that other paintings exist on the adjacent wall, 
presently hidden beneath the scenes representing the Battle of Val di Chiana 
and the Battle ofPoggio Impériale. ^^ 

The eventual rediscovery of some of the painted castles in the Palazzo 
Pubblico could lead to what some scholars might regard as the "discovery of 
the century" in art history. Such a discovery could, in turn, touch off in Siena 
(and throughout the world of art history and medieval studies) celebrations that 
greatly exceed even those that took place after those same castles were 
conquered by the government of the Nine in Siena in the fourteenth century.'^ 

Florence, Italy & The City University of New York 

1 . W. Bowsky. A Medieval Italian Commune (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1 98 1 ), 
pp. 170-171. 

2. W. Bowsky. p. 173. 

3. W. Bowsky, p. 35. 

4. Biblioteca Communale di Siena, ms. C. V.4 (U. Benvoglienti. Miscellanea), p. 1 . 

44 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

5. Archivio di Stato di Siena, Statuti, 26 (1337-1355), p. 71: "Nulla arma possint dipingi in 
aliquo palatio ut porta vel fonte . . ." This provision was basically a repetition of that of an 
earlier Statuto: Archivio di Stato di Siena, Statuti, 8 (1291-1329), p. 16. In light of this 
provision restricting the painting of coat-of-arms, one might ask: What in the world is the 
glaringly large coat-of-arms of a branch of the Fogliani family doing on the famous 
equestrian portrait known as Guido Riccio? Doesn' t this aspect seem anachronistic? Cf also 
Mario Ascheri. // Giomale dell Arte, November 1988, p. 70. 

6. W. Bowsky (p. 286) translates the pertinent passages of the Maestà inscriptions as follows: 
"The angelic flowers of roses and lilies with which the heavenly field is adorned do not 
delight me more than good counsel (i buoni consigli). But sometimes I see one who, for his 
own advantage, despises me and deceives my land. . ." 

7. Cronache Senesi, ed. by A. Lisini and F. Jacometti (1939), p. 293. 

8. Biblioteca Communale di Siena, ms. C.V.4 (U. Benvoglienti. Miscellanea), pp. 121, 126, 
131, 142, 155. 

9. J. Polzer. "Simone Martini's Guidoriccio Fresco: The Polemic Concerning its Origin 
Reviewed, and the Fresco Considered as Serving the Military Triumph of a Tuscan 
Commune," RACAR 1-2 (1987), p. 29. 

10. J. Polzer, p. 29, notes 78, 79, 80, 81; Biblioteca Communale di Siena, ms. C.V.4 (U. 
Benvoglienti. Miscellanea), p. 180. 

11. Bibhioteca Communale di Siena, ms. C.V.4 (U. Benvoglienti. Miscellanea), p. 174. 

12. W. Bowsky, p. 291, note 97. 

13. M. Seidel. "'Castnim pingatur in palatio': Ricerche storiche e iconografiche sui castelli 
dipinti nel Palazzo Pubblico di Siena," Prospettiva, January 1982, p. 34, note 36. 

14. A. Miletta. "Guidoriccio da Fogliano at the Siege of Montemassi: The Controversy over the 
Simone Martini Autorship and the Technical Evidence for a Post- 1330 Dating of the 
Fresco," Dissertation, University of Syracuse, 1988, pp. 11-12. 

15. Guelf victory celebrations continued after 1333. Within the time span ca. 1333- 1351, Guido 
Riccio da Fogliano is well-documented as being allied with, and working (i.e. fighting) for, 
one of the most powerful Ghibelline families in Italy, the della Scala of Verona. It is difficult 
to imagine Guido Riccio' s equestrian portrait being displayed in full glory (the way it is 
today in the Siena Palazzo Pubblico) in the Council Hall of the Sienese government of the 
Nine in the midst of the Guelf victory celebrations that were taking place in Siena during 
the years 1333-1351. 

Figuring Justice: Imperial 

Ideology and the Discourse 

of Colonialism in Book V of 

The Faerie Queene and A 

View of the Present State of 



Summary: Edmund Spenser is a vocal spokesman for the colonization of 
Ireland. In A View of the Present State of Ireland, he provides one of the most 
sustained imperialist articulations in Elizabethan England. And in Book V of 
The Faerie Queene, he promulgates a vision of justice that is necessary for 
containing individual and social dissent, as well as for consolidating monar- 
chical authority. Spenser wants a similar form of relentless justice applied to 
controlling the recalcitrant Irish, hut discovers that his implacable imperialist 
policy stands in direct opposition to Queen Elizabeth 's own. 


n Book V of The Faerie Queene,^ Spenser allegorizes the mechanisms by 
which justice is exercised and enacted in civil society. The presiding genius in 
this Book is Astraca, the goddess of justice who is also the mythological 
embodiment of Elizabeth Tudor. Astraca has been responsible for educating 
Artegall, the man who will sire the line leading to Queen Elizabeth and the 
image Britomart encounters in a magic mirror in Book III. When Astraca fled 
from the world* s corruption, she left behind her groom Talus to serve Artegall. 
Artegall's and Talus' task is to ensure that justice is not violated in the world 
Astraca left behind. Book V shows Artegall progressing ritually through a 
series of adventures, meting out justice on the bodies of the unjust. In 
allegorizing the workings of Justitia, Spenser meditates on its relationship to 
dementia. What place does mercy have in the dispensation of justice? Book 
V recognizes that mercy is an important component in any consideration of 
justice, but it ultimately supports the use of the sword as a necessary condition 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 1 (1995) /45 

46 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

for preserving social and civil order. Spenser's Talus represents the executive 
power of Justitia unmediated by dementia. The harsh enactment and exercise 
of power is needed to correct the lawlessness of characters like Pollente and 
Munera who abuse power and wealth, and by the giant who advocates a false 
mean between truth and falsehood. 

Spenser's conception of justice expressed in Book V can be read as a 
poeticization of the vision of justice given in A View of the Present State of 
Ireland? Taking the form of a dialogue between two men, A View was most 
probably composed in 1596, the year in which the second installment of The 
Faerie Queene was entered on the Stationers' Register. Central to Book V and 
A View is how the meting out of justice is tied directly to legitimizing the 
monarch's authority. Spenser is never completely at ease with the concept and 
implications of mercy, finding in it the source of much of the troubles plaguing 
English society and the Ireland England wishes to colonize. While paying lip 
service to the laudable virtue of the Queene' s mercy, he criticizes, for example, 
her half-hearted endorsement of actions that will effectively control the state 
of lawlessness in neighbouring Ireland. Therefore, the exercise of justice 
necessary for social stability and order is, for Spenser, central also to the project 
of English imperialism and colonialism. Spenser is the unabashed apologist for 
the use of force to order and consolidate England's imperium. 

Spenser's preoccupation with the relationship between justice and mercy 
as aspects of imperial authority is expressed cogently in the allegorization of 
Mercilla' s judgment in Duessa in Book V of The Faerie Queene, and it would 
be appropriate for us to begin our discussion by recapitulating some of the 
salient features of this relationship. Spenser's portrayal of the iconic Mercilla 
is first and foremost encomiastic; England is described as a "happie land" 
(V.ix.30) that has enjoyed the fruits of a peaceful reign; in Mercilla' s court, 
"the name of warre" is never spoken, "ioyous peace and quietnesse" reigns, 
and judgments are meted out (V.ix.24). This pax anglicana is disrupted by 
Duessa, whose treachery involves nothing less than the attempt to dethrone a 
monarch and subvert England's ordered realm. A transparent allegory of the 
trial of Mary Queen of Scots, this episode impresses upon its reader that even 
though Mercilla/Elizabeth embodies the princely virtue of mercy, the demands 
of justice must be met for the good of the commonwealth to prevail. The 
monarch must dispense justice to protect the security of the state. 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 47 

One recalls the Mercilla/Duessa allegory when Spenser invokes Elizabeth 
as "Her sacred Majesty" who is "by nature full of mercy and clemency" (p. 
105) in A View of the Present State of Ireland. In A View, Spenser's Irenius 
provides at length an account of the Queen's mercy: 

I wish that there be a general proclamation made, that whatsoever outlaws 
will freely come in and submit themselves to Her Majesty ' s mercy shall have 
liberty so to do, where they shall either find that grace they desire or return 
again in safety; upon which it is likely that so many as survive will come in 
to sue for grace, of which who so are thought meet for subjection and fit to 
be brought to good may be received or else all of them, for I think that all will 
be but a very few, upon condition and assurance that they will submit 
themselves absolutely to Her Majesty's ordinance for them, by which they 
shall be assured of life and liberty and be only tied to such conditions as shall 
be thought by her meet, for containing them ever after in due obedience. 

(pp. 122-123) 

The reference to Elizabeth's mercy, like Spenser's allegorical representation 
of Mercilla, is encomiastic. This praise does not, however, exempt Elizabeth 
from blame in recalling Lord Grey from Ireland because of his harsh regime. 
Spenser's A View inscribes an indirect critique in its defense of Lord Grey. 
Irenius portrays Grey as a gentle and temperate man who resorted to violence 
in Ireland only because"the necessity of that present state of things enforced 
him to" (p. 106). Lord Grey had no choice but to check the calamity that 
followed in the wake of the Desmond Rebellion and to punish the Spaniards 
at Smerwick who "were only adventurers, that came to seek fortune abroad and 
serve in wars" (p. 108).^ 

Another allusion to Elizabeth' s recall of Lord Grey de Wilton from Ireland 
is found in Book V, canto xii, of The Faerie Queene. In praising the former 
governor' s role in breaking the force of the rebellious Fitzgeralds of Desmond, 
Spenser writes about the part played by justice in reforming "that ragged 
common-weale" (V.xii.26) of Ireland. In this last canto of Book V, justice is 
shown to operate beyond the confines of England. In Ireland, where people 
"vsed to rob and steale, / Or did rebell gainst lawfull gouemment" (V.xii.26), 
Talus "did inflict most grieuous punishment" (V.xii.26). Spenser's techno- 
logical version of God's omniscience, the Talus who "could reueale / All 
hidden crimes" (V.xii.26), is recalled. Artegall is also compelled to return to 
the Court. Spenser allegorizes his understanding and defence of Grey's 
administration in Ireland by depicting Artegall battling against and killing 
Grantorto (whose name suggests "great wrong"), freeing Irena from tyranny 

48 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

and imprisonment, rescued by Artegall, Irena, whose name etymologically 
means "peace," enjoys only a short lease of joy. Spenser points to envy to 
explain the unpopular response to Grey's administration in Ireland. Envy's 
"nature is to grieue, and grudge at all, / That euer she sees doen pray s- worthily" 
(V.xii.31). Like Milton's self-consuming Sin, Spenser's Envy "feedes on her 
owne law vnnaturall, / And of her owne foule entrayles makes her meat" 
(V.xii.31). Significantly, Envy's close ally is Detraction, who primarily 
"waeue[s] false tales and leasings bad, / To throw amongst the good, which 
others had disprad" (V.xii.36). In the logic of Spenser's allegory. Lord Grey 
is the victim of envy , backbiting, and slander. His task, like Artegall' s, is to free 
peace from the clutches of tyranny. He "sorely punished with heauie payne" 
(V.xii.25) the people who were involved in tyrannizing Irena; and he was 
preoccupied with the task of dispensing "true lustice" (V.xii.26) and the 
question of "How to reforme that ragged common-weale" (V.xii.26). Unfor- 
tunately, that task remains incomplete and the Blatant Beast with "his hundred 
tongues" (V.xii.41), Envy and Detraction's very own pet, significantly sur- 
vives to escape even Calidore's clutches in Book VI and to roam the world 
striking terror at the conclusion of Spenser's epic poem."^ When the mecha- 
nisms of colonial administration and justice are withdrawn, anarchy logically 

In portraying Artegall' s recall, Spenser reveals his feelings that Grey had 
been unfairly treated by Elizabeth. In A View Spenser criticizes the people who 
accuse Grey of being "a bloody man" (p. 106) and of treating the Irish as "no 
more th2in dogs" (p. 106). This criticism is implicitly aimed at the Queen 
herself. Strategically placing Eudoxius' account of the criticisms levelled 
against Grey after the description of the devastation and famine caused by the 
Desmond Wars, Spenser argues that "the necessity of that present state of 
things enforced him to that violence" (p. 106). Spenser shared Ludovick 
Bryskett's view that Grey's "lustice is a terror to the wicked, and a comforte 
vnto the good, whose sinceritie very envie it self cannott touche, and whose 
wisdome might, in the oppinion of the wysest that consider his proceedinges, 
goveme a whole Empyre."^ His portrayal of the relationship between justice 
and the establishment of civil order links Book V to A View of the Present State 
of Ireland. In the latter text, bringing about civil order cannot be extricated 
from the cause of British imperialism. Stanza 26 of Book V, canto xii shows 
Talus in Ireland. The force of justice required for the smooth functioning of 
society also serves to disseminate the immeasurable benefits of culture and 
civilization to a savage people. In stanza 39 of Book V, canto xi, Spenser refers 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 49 

to Ireland as "the saluage Hands." And in A View Irenius proposes different 
ways to tame the savage Irish. 

Arguably, the most devastating critique of Elizabeth's recall of Grey and 
of those opposed to his actions in Ireland is found toward the conclusion of A 
View. There Irenius offers a passionate defence for the right of the Lord Deputy 
to possess "more ample and absolute" (p. 168) authority. Set against the 
historical and political context of Grey's removal from Ireland, Spenser's 
portrayal of Elizabeth's mercy possesses both positive and negative 
significations. The exercise of mercy shows the monarch tempering the 
otherwise cold justice of the law. But it also suggests the Queen does not fully 
appreciate the hard reality of controlling a rebellious and intransigent people 
like the Irish. 

In A View, Spenser's portrayal of Elizabeth's mercy is mediated by the 
presence of a political world in which the Queen is not shaping events with 
sufficient determination and veracity.^ He suggests that Elizabeth does not 
understand the difficulty of administering an Ireland that is culturally back- 
ward and vehemently hostile toward the English. In reading Spenser's views 
on the Irish question, it is important that we do not confuse his politics with one 
that is dominant in the Elizabethan court. In fact, Elizabeth did not share 
Spenser's desire to bring a recalcitrant Ireland to heel through brutal means. 
Indeed, in 1 582, she accepted Grey ' s repeated requests for resignation from his 
duties in Ireland because she did not support his reputedly severe and harsh 
governance there. On a larger scale, there is also the Queen's ineffective 
protection of the Protestant Church' s interests abroad.^ Immediately following 
the Mercilla-Duessa episode, Spenser proceeds to allegorize the regaining of 
Antwerp (V.x.38-39) and the defeat of Catholicism in Arthur's killing of 
Geryoneo. This allegory in cantos x and xi rewrites the facts of the Netherlands 
campaign. Spenser allegorizes Leicester' s Calvinist expedition as a triumph of 
Protestant honour. When the Queen sent Leicester with an army of 7,000 men 
to assist the provinces after Antwerp's fall to the Spanish forces appeared 
imminent, he arrived too late to prevent the catastrophe from taking place. 
Spenser believed Elizabeth had failed to intervene decisively and free the Low 
Countries from oppression by Catholic Spain. That the Queen did not give her 
uncompromising support to combat the threat posed by Catholic Spain and the 
Habsburg powers in Europe proved scandalous to the militant Protestants. 
Like Leicester, Walsingham, and Sidney, Spenser was drawn to the larger 
international concerns of the reformed religion. And like Essex, he would like 
to have seen Elizabeth pursue a more interventionist and militant foreign 

50 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

polocy. Instead he saw, as Ralegh did, that Elizabeth "did all by halves,"'' and 
her defence of the Netherlands was as inconclusive as her subjugation of 
Ireland. Confronted with these frustrations, Spenser wrote Book V to express 
his own version of history. Arthur's defeat of Geryoneo, therefore, can be read 
in terms of Spenser's recuperation of the narrative history through an alterna- 
tive poetic narrative. What could not be achieved in history can be experienced 
vicariously through allegory. If Spenser's rewriting of history redeems its 
failures, it also identifies the Queen as the source of those failures. 

Spenser's disappointment with Elizabeth's handling of England's foreign 
policy registers itself in an epic text whose ostensible design is to celebrate the 
Virgin Queen. The different aspects of Elizabeth's glory are figured in such 
symbolic identities as Una, Belphoebe, Britomart, Mercilla, and Gloriana. But 
even as Spenser's multiple mirrours refer to the positive figurations of the 
Queen's royal identity, they also point to demonic variations of those figura- 
tions. Doublings proliferate in Spenser's romance narrative — Lucifera and 
the Faerie Queene, Malecasta and Britomart, Radigund and Britomart. The 
presence of these demonic variations means that the Queen can never remove 
from her gaze patterns of what the royal court could degenerate into. If 
Elizabeth, for example, finds Gloriana set before her as a mirror of majesty , she 
cannot help but look at the demonic counterpart of that majesty fugured in 
Lucifera. Even though it is a poem of praise to Elizabeth, The Faerie Queene 
extends its educative function as mirrour and ensample to the Queen. Enco- 
mium is given in a narrative that also relegates blame and delivers warnings. 

Spenser's poetic and political vision then possesses an internationalist 
dimension, linked to and endorsed by his belief in England's role as protector 
of the Protestant Church's interests abroad. At different moments throughout 
The Faerie Queene, Spenser calls attention to Elizabeth's failure to protect 
these interests. Viewing himself as the English Virgil writing in praise of the 
Elizabethan Golden Age, Spenser finds he cannot simply celebrate the idea of 
national greatness, if a central requirement in consolidating that greatness — 
the expansion of an overseas empire — is lacking in some way. That is why 
he links imperial authority and English greatness to the expansion of the 
empire. The métonymie relationship Spenser sets up between Elizabeth's 
power and the expansion of the English imperium creates an epic of praise even 
as it situates the threats posed to the consolidation of the imperium. It is 
important once again to recognize that Spenser's views on empire building do 
not coincide with Elizabeth's at different points. There is in reality no unified 
Elizabethan world picture defining England's intemational ambitions in the 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 51 

latter half of the sixteenth century. Indeed it is highly probable that the conflicts 
existing between Spenser's and the court's views on the Irish question brought 
about a censorship that led to the printing of A View only in 1633, well over 
three decades after its most likely date of composition in 1596.^ 

As an epic romance, The Faerie Queene is directly linked by Spenser to 
the design and ambitions of empire building. In choosing the specific mode of 
the Arthurian romance, Spenser affirms England's greatness by conflating its 
contemporary "sundry place" (II.Proem.4) with its "famous antique history" 
(Il.Proem.l). Despite his recognition that the creation of this poem may be 
viewed by readers as "th'aboundance of an idle braine" (Il.Proem.l) eind 
"painted forgery" (Il.Proem.l), Spenser defends his creative efforts by point- 
ing out that the imagination can exert a powerful influence over material 
reality. England, Spenser's argument implies, can be "that happy land of 
Faery" (H. Proem. 1) even though, of course, no one has yet seen it. Not to have 
seen something does not negate its existence. Not to have seen "Faeryland" 
does not mean England is not the great realm of legend and history, just as not 
to have heard of Peru, the Amazon, and Virginia does not mean these places 
do not exist. For it was only as late as 1540 that the Amazon was first sailed 
and 1584 that Sir Walter Ralegh, Spenser's intimate friend, presented to 
Elizabeth those lands he had discovered in North America. The Proem to 
Spenser's Legend of Temperance is not a defence of the substantive nature of 
the imagination, its ability to translate fictions into reality, but a specific 
exhortation for England to recognize that there is an empire out there in the 
larger world waiting to be carved out. The imagination, in other words, has a 
utilitarian function. "Faeryland," as Maureen Quilligan puts it, "is located in 
the place of the questing human imagination, a peculiar Renaissance creature 
that does not [. . .] confine its quests to mental realms alone but sallies out to 
seek new continents. "^° Spenser locates England's colonial interests at the 
point in which the world of the imagination intersects with reality. In the 
twenty-second stanza of Book IV, canto xi, he exhorts the British to follow 
Ralegh's urgings to colonize in South America. Ralegh's "The Discovery of 
the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana" (1596) asserts that wealth 
can be obtained in the Americas, if only England recognizes the urgent need 
to enter into and compete for land in which the Spaniards and the French have 
already made incursions.^ • 

In spite of the anxieties he betrays in responding to Elizabeth's foreign 
policy and the ways in which she conducts affairs at court, Spenser cannot 
ultimately free himself from the imperial ideology to which he subscribes and 

52 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

in which he is inscribed. His criticisms of the Queen are made to serve the 
interests of advancing the Protestant cause and increasing England' s territorial 
boundaries. The justice that Spenser celebrates when it works to protect the 
security of the state and to crush crime and rebellion legitimizes and consoli- 
dates the monarch's authority. Administering God's law on earth, the prince 
cannot be touched by the law. Francis Bacon shares Spenser's understanding 
of monarchical authority when he writes: "Let judges also remember that 
Solomon's throne was supported by lions on both sides: let them be lions, but 
yet lions under the throne, being circumspect that they do not check or oppose 
any points of sovereignty."'^ Accepting implicitly the royalist premise that the 
monarch is God's anointed on earth and the custodian of justice in time, 
Spenser subscribes wholly to the homily. Concerning Good Order, and 
Obedience to Rulers and Magistrates (1547), which identifies rulers and 
magistrates as the guardians of civil order: 

Take away Kings, Princes, Rulers, Magistrates, Judges and such estates of 
GODS order, no man shall ride or goe by the high way unrobbed, no man 
shall sleep in his owne house or bedde unkilled, no man shall keepe his wife, 
children, and possession in quietnesse, all things shall bee common, and 
there must needes follow all mischiefe, and utter destruction both of soules, 
bodies, goodes, and common wealthes.^^ 

This homily endorses a hierarchical view of human society with its macrocos- 
mic correspondence in the universe, telling the common people that supporting 
the authority of their ruler protects them from crimes committed against their 
bodies, properties, and souls. In this hierarchical society, the subject always 
remains the possession of the monarch. 

That Spenser makes explicit his recognition that the poet operating in 
society can never be freed from his subject position enforces the status of his 
epic poem as a gift made by a loyal servant to his Queen even as it destabilizes 
the monarch- subject relationship. For any suggestion that textual production 
is enabled by pressures exerted from without has the effect of compromising 
the constructions of poetic praise. One obvious reminder of the poet's 
relationship to the world of court politics is given in Spenser's allegorical 
representation of the nailing of the poet Bonfont' s tongue to a post in Mercilla' s 
court. This painful example jostles the otherwise cohesive allegorical frame- 
work of Mercilla' s grand court and her just reign. If acknowledging the poet's 
subject position ratifies the hierarchical conception of society, it also disrupts 
encomium by suggesting that poetic praise is given under the conditions of 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 53 

censorship, surveillance, and control. 

In an instance of deep historical irony, Spenser's depiction of the royal 
monopoly of the authorial voice materializes in James VF s demand that he be 
punished for allegorizing Mary Queen of Scots as Duessa in the Mercilla/ 
Duessa episode. This demand can be read as James' attempt to rewrite the 
narrative of history by making Elizabeth disavow symbolically her support for 
and approval of Queen Mary's execution. If the Queen should punish Spenser 
as he demanded, he would obtain the symbolic affirmation that he enjoyed the 
privileges of sovereignty; James could then extrapolate from this concession 
that Elizabeth supported him as her successor to the English throne.'"^ James' 
response to Spenser's allegory clearly shows that ownership of the poetic text 
does not belong solely to its author; the text can serve as a pawn in the contest 
of power between monarchs. Like all other subjects in society, the poet is 
conceptualized here as possession, one that compromises encomium and 
identifies the social conditions and political pressures that enable and shape 
textual productions. 

Spenser's preoccupation with power and its social articulations is ex- 
pressed even further in the episodes of Artegall' s encounter with Pollente and 
Talus' with Munera. Here royal possession assumes the form of a physical sign 
imprinted on the body of the subject. In canto ii, Spenser significantly 
describes Artegall as the knight "Who now to perils great for iustice sake 
proceedes" (V.ii.l). Following his encounter with Sanglier, Artegall meets 
Pollente at the start of canto ii. Alluding to the monopoly patents granted to 
corporations, Pollente, whose name means "powerful" in Italian and puns on 
the word "poll" (tax), is Spenser's allegorical sign for the abuse of political 
power. Pollente extorts from both rich and poor travellers who wish to cross 
over his bridge. Artegall' s encounter with Pollente ends in the latter' s decapi- 
tation, an account Spenser describes in vivid and graphic detail: 

But Artegall pursewd him still so neare, 

With bright Chrysaor in his cruell hand, 

That as his head he gan a litle reare 

Aboue the brincke, to tread vpon the land, 

He smote it off, that tumbling on the strand 

It bit the earth for very fell despight, 

And gnashed with his teeth, as if he band 

High God, whose goodnesse he despaired quight. 

Or curst the hand, which did that vengeance on him dight. 

His corps was carried downe along the Lee, 

54 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Whose waters with his filthy bloud it stayned: 

But his blasphemous head, that all might see, 

He pitcht vpon a pole on high ordayned; 

Where many years it afterwards remayned, 

To be a mirrour to all mighty men, 

In whose right hands great power is contayned. 

That none of them the feeble ouerren. 

But alwaies doe their powre within iust compassé pen. 


Of particular interest in Spenser's description of Pollente's execution is the 
example Artegall makes of Pollente. Artegall fixes Pollente's head on a pole 
for all to see. There this head, Spenser tells us, remained for many years to serve 
as "a mirrour to all mighty men." The mirrour which reflects the true state of 
nature is also Spenser' s synonym for example. Defending Lord Grey ' s regime 
in A View of the Present State of Ireland, Spenser's Irenius explains the 
importance of setting up examples to instil fear into those inclined to become 
rebels. Lord Grey "spared not the heads and principals of any mischievous 
practice or rebellion, but showed sharp judgement on them, chiefly, for 
ensample sake, that all the meaner sort, which also were then generally infected 
with that evil might by terror thereof be reclaimed and saved, if it were 
possible" (p. 107; italics mine). In Book V, Artegall exhibits the ghastly 
spectacle of Pollente's head as "mirrour" and "ensample." His act finds its 
political and social analogy in the power the prince exercises over the body of 
the subject. 

Spenser's depiction of Pollente's punishment points to a discursive field 
in which the manufacturing of body parts is loaded with heavy symbolism. 
Directly linked to the capital crime of treason, spectacles of dismemberment 
were designed to remind the citizenry of their subject position in the body 
politic and to serve as grisly warnings. Thomas Wyatt' s plans to overthrow the 
government of Catholic Queen Mary, for example, resulted in his imprison- 
ment, torture, beheading, disembowelment, and quartering; the different parts 
of Wyatt' s quartered body were displayed in gibbets in various parts of 
London. In the Stuart period, an indirect attack on the Caroline court and its 
theatricals lost William Prynne both his ears.'^ Curt Breight summarizes the 
pervasiveness of mutilation as punishment and symbolism in Renaissance 

Although there were more executions for treason in the 1530s than in the 
whole of Elizabeth's reign, discursive productions of treason — arrest, 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 55 

trials, executions, displays, pamphlets, sermons — pervaded the sociopolitical 
environment of the entire second half of Elizabeth's reign and the first few 
years of James's government. In this sense the overall numbers are less 
important than the regularity of and the attendant discourse about treason 
cases after 1580 — i.e. the almost annual parade of demonized conspirators 
to the scaffold, frequently preceded and/or followed by ideological disputes 
between the regimes' s apologists and its opponents.*^ 

London Bridge frequently displayed body parts, exhibits promoted by the 
royal court to create paranoia and undermine dissent. It was always useful to 
produce traitors for almost yearly executions; this ritual helped to strengthen 
the prince' s literal and symbolic authority. Enabling the mechanisms of justice 
to function in civil society, the legalistic, martial, and technological Talus in 
Book V of The Faerie Queene significantly forms what James Nohmberg 
describes as "the whole police power of surveillance, investigation, detection, 
apprehension, arrest, arraignment, and punishment."*^ 

Spenser' s response to the authority the monarch holds over the body of the 
subject may complicate the narrative of his encomiastic performance in The 
Faerie Queene, but it never translates at any point into anti-royalist rhetoric. 
The recognition that the poet must negotiate carefully the potentially explosive 
minefield of court politics does not detract from his implicit faith in an 
inviolable royalist ideology. When Spenser reveals his disagreement with the 
Queen's handling of foreign policy, for example, he does not interrogate the 
Queen's authority; rather, he wants to contribute toward building up the 
English imperium, which can only be attained through a more distinctly 
interventionist foreign policy. The terror wielded by the monarch to crush 
dissent and procure compliance is a principle understood by Spenser as central 
to the creation auid consolidation of social order. Significantly, Spenser's 
Irenius advocates terror as a means of procuring discipline. In envisaging an 
Ireland with no expressive form of idleness, Irenius, for example, W2ints all 
stragglers who roam aimlessly to be picked up by the sheriff. He wants this 
straggler to be punished with stocks for a first offence and with whipping for 
a second. Should a straggler be apprehended a third time, he is given "the 
bitterness of the martial law" (p. 160). Meted out by the marshall, this martial 
law, which can involve the death penalty, will "work that terror in the hearts" 
(p. 160) of loafers that mere whipping fails to accomplish. The terror of death 
serves as an efficient deterrent; but capital punishment fulfills the more 
practical and utilitarian purpose of ensuring that the jails are not packed to 

56 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

That justice makes spectacles and examples of the bodies of the con- 
demned is not confined to the Pollente episode. Munera, Pollente's daughter, 
is also subjected to the same fate. When Talus starts battering down the gate 
of Munera' s castle, she attempts to appease him by bribing him with bags of 
gold. Talus cannot be bought with riches and, representing a justice that 
penetrates all the secret places (V.ii.25), he discovers Munera hiding "Vnder 
an heape of gold" (V.ii.25). Once again Spenser describes graphically Talus' 
violent treatment of Munera: 

Yet for no pity would he change the course 

Of lustice, which in Talus hand did lye; 

Who rudely hayld her forth without remorse, 

Still holding vp her suppliant hands on hye, 

And kneeling at his feete submissiuely. 

But he her suppliant hands, those hands of gold. 

And eke her feete, those feete of siluer trye. 

Which sought vnrighteousness, and iustice sold, 

Chopt off, and nayld on high, that all might them behold. 


Where Artegall has just a few moments earlier fixed Pollente' s head on a pole 
to serve as a lesson, Talus now nails Munera' s dismembered limbs "on high, 
that all might them behold" (V.ii.26). Recalling for the reader Artegall' s 
action. Talus' treatment of Munera symbolizes an important aspect of the 
prince' s demonstration, wielding, and exercise of power. Spenser conceptual- 
izes justice as imperial virtue, grounding its significance in the governance of 
the body politic. In canto iv, for example, Talus, "that great vpon groome," is 
described as Artegall' s (or justice' s) "gard and gouemment" (V.iv.3). Spenser' s 
use of the word "gouemment" to describe Talus links the executive force of 
justice to rulership. Significantly, he refers to "the right hand of lustice" as 
"powre" (V.iv. 1 ). Justice must "be perform' d with dreadlesse might" (V.iv. 1 ). ^^ 
Because the monarch is the originary source of justice in civil society, "it 
is capital crime to devise or purpose the death of the king" (p. 21). The 
indisputable head of the body politic, the monarch is not subject to laws. In A 
View, Spenser's Irenius says that it is "in the power of the prince, to change all 
the laws and make new" (p. 141). We encounter a radically different tenor in 
Milton's figurations of justice. For the republican and antiroyalist Milton, an 
inverse relationship governs monarch and subject. The king holds his position 
in society only so long as he fulfills his God-given function and ensures the 
subjects' welfare. Subject to law, the monarch who betrays the people whio 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 57 

delegated power to him to protect "the Common good of . . . all"^^ must be 
brought to justice. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates equates justice with 
the Sword of God" {Yale III, 193); Milton writes: 


be he King, or Tyrant, or Emperour, the Sword of Justice is above him, in 
whose hand soever is found sufficient power to avenge the effusion, and so 
great a deluge of innocent blood. For if all human power to execute, not 
accidentally but intendedly, the wrath of God upon evil doers without 
exception, be of God; then that power, whether ordinary, or if that faile, 
extraordinary so executing tht intent of God, is lawfull, and not to be resisted. 

(Ka/e III, 197-198) 

Unlike Milton who, in equating justice with the sword of God, argues for the 
subject's right and obligation to dethrone the tyrant, Spenser puts the sword of 
justice in the monarch' s hand. In A View, he links "the nature of treason" to "the 
royal estate or person of the prince" (p. 35); "practising with [the prince's] 
enemies to the derogation and danger of his crown and dignity" (p. 35) 
constitutes treason. Spenser's politics cannot accomodate Milton's contrac- 
tual model of kingship. 


In interpreting the expression of Spenser's colonial views in his writings, 
we often fmd ourselves aligning with one of two general positions: Spenser is 
the preeminent English poet of empire,^° or he is responding realistically to the 
threat posed by Irish rebelliousness and intransigence. I now wish to relate the 
colonial theme in Spenser to the contradictions encountered in his definition 
of the colonialist project and also to views held on the subjection of Ireland 
supported by the Elizabethan court. Arguably, a major force disrupting 
Spenser's attempt to produce a powerfully coherent blueprint for the coloni- 
zation of Ireland is the absence of a sustained and consensual court ideology 
concerning the Irish question. 

Spenser's A View begins by providing an exposé of the degenerate state 
of Ireland and a critique of Elizabeth's "soft" attitude toward its control and 
subjection. Spenser argues that because the state of Ireland is beyond any hope 
of recovery, it must be salvaged through the logical project of colonization. 
The Irish lack of coherent system of laws which is the foundation of all civil 
societies and do not even possess a definable ethnic identity . Spenser' s Irenius 
begins his dialogue with Eudoxius by asserting that the Irish do not understand 
the basic nature and function of laws, and have never learnt obedience to them. 

58 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

If laws serve to restore and secure order in society, a people without laws have 
no access to the benefits provided by a legal institution. Even the task of 
imposing good and sound laws in Ireland is doomed to failure for a society that 
cannot understand their significance. Once Irenius has established that laws 
are central to any civilized society and culture, Ireland, with its absence of a 
coherent legal system, is immediately categorized as uncivilized. 

Spenser's Irish are not only barbaric and uncivilized, they do not possess 
an identifiable ethnic or national identity. The origins of the people who have 
come to be known as the Irish are lost as a result of different ethnic interactions. 
Spenser's Irenius gives an elaborate exposé of the impurity of the Irish race. 
Tracing their ancestry to the Scythians (whom Spenser equates with the Scots), 
the Irish have intermingled racially with the Spaniards, Gauls, Britons, and 
Saixons. The interminglings that took place between English and Irish did not 
result in improving the Irish. Instead they led to the assimilation of English 
families of high station into Irish life and culture. Adopting Irish ways, these 
English families became barbaric. Spenser negates Irish identity when he 
suggests that there is no such thing as a Celtic speaking people. In order to 
reinforce this absence of identity, Spenser proceeds to argue that there is no 
such character as a real Spaniard. If the Spaniard is ethnically indistinct, then 
the ineluctable logic follows that the condition of ethnic impurity is exacer- 
bated for the Irish who intermingled freely with the Spaniards in the early 
history of Ireland. The Spaniards are portrayed as the most bastardized race in 

Ireland' s uncivilized, anarchic, and nationally indistinct state is a thematic 
constant in both Spenser' s A View and The Faerie Queene. In the "Mutabilitie 
Cantos," for example, the ambition of the titaness Mutability to control the 
gods in addition to her dominion over the world leads to a gathering of the gods 
in council. Nature is invited to hear and adjudicate Mutability's plea on Arlo 
Hill, a setting which refers to Galtymore, the highest peak in the mountain 
range near Spenser' s home Kilcoman in County Cork. The reference to Ireland 
in Colin Clout's digressive tale about Arlo is significant because it enacts the 
myth of lost glory and degeneration. Ireland is a society caught irreversibly in 
a state of chronic regression. Canto vi, stanza 38, accepts that "IRELAND 
flourished in fame" for her learning throughout Northern Europe for the sixth 
to the ninth century; that was when Cynthia/Diana, the virgin goddess of the 
hunt, frolicked and played unhampered on the grounds of Arlo. When the 
voyeuristic Faunus views Diana naked at her bath with the help of Molanna, 
he is punished. But even worse than the retribution visited on Faunus is Diana' s 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 59 

decision to abandon her old haunt, a departure that brings "an heauy haplesse 
curse" ( upon the place. Because of this curse, Ireland is 
filled with wolves and thieves up to this day. Combining the Ovidian stories 
of Actaeon and Diana, Calisto's punishment, and Alpheus* love for Arethusa, 
Spenser's mythologizing of Diana's departure from Arlo reduces Ireland to a 
cultural wasteland. Spenser does the reverse of what a celebrant of British 
greatness like Alexander Pope will do years later when, in celebrating the 
Peace of Utrecht, he portrays Windsor Forest as the hunting ground of 
monarchs as well as a haven of the Muses. The presence of the Muses 
establishes not only the forest's timelessness, but its possession of a cultural 
heritage as great as that of classical Greece or Rome. In his "Mutabilitie 
Cantos," Spenser tells us that Ireland lost that heritage a long time ago. 

If Ireland cannot be recuperated in any way, then it might be well for a 
civilizing power to consider the possibility of recreating the entire realm of 
Ireland anew. There is much discussion of this re-creation in A View, one that 
can be described as the Machiavellian fantasy of founding a new society ex 
nihilo. In examining the lives of Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus, 
Machiavelli writes in The Prince: "And examining their deeds and their lives, 
one can see that they received nothing from fortune except the opportunity, 
which gave them the material they could mould into whatever form they 
desired."^^ In the last chapter, he stresses: "no other thing brings a new man on 
the rise such honour as the new laws and the new institutions discovered by 
him."^^ In The Discourses, Machiavelli writes that anyone who proposes to set 
up "una potestà assoluta" must renovate everything; men who steer a middle 
course face the grave danger of losing their authority {Discourses 1.26-26).^^ 
Articulating an anti-Machiavellian perspective, Spenser's Eudoxius finds all 
forms of radical innovation perilous (p. 94). In contrast, Irenius advocates the 
complete overhauling of Irish society because "it is vain to prescribe laws 
where no man careth for keeping them, nor feareth the danger for breaking 
them" (p. 94). He wants "all the realm . . . first to be reformed and laws . . . 
afterward to be made, for keeping and continuing it in that reformed estate" (p. 
94). Finding that Ireland is a state that progresses from evil to greater evil, 
Irenius calls first for a transformation of human nature. Once this transforma- 
tion is effected, a system of laws can then be introduced. 

While Eudoxius and Irenius have spoken at length on the importance of 
laws to civilized society, their responses to how and when these laws are to be 
introduced differ. Eudoxius cannot conceive of the beginnings of anew society 
apart from erecting laws and ordinances. Irenius advocates first using the 

60 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

sword to eradicate those evils that make the erection of good laws and 
ordinances extremely difficult to start with. He defends the use of the sword: 
"for all those evils must first be cut away with a strong hand before any good 
can be planted, like as the corrupt branches and the unwholesome boughs are 
first to be pruned, and the foul moss cleansed or scraped away, before the tree 
can bring forth any good fruit" (p. 95). Later in the text, the proposal to clean 
up the filth in Ireland is replaced by the staggering statement: 

For the English, having been trained up always in the English government, 
will hardly be enured unto any other, and the Irish will better be drawn to the 
English than the English to the Irish government. Therefore, since we cannot 
now apply laws fit to the people, as in the first institution of commonwealths 
it ought to be, we will apply the people and fit them to the laws, as it most 
conveniently may be. 

(pp. 141-142) 

Because the Irish are completely intransigent, no effort should be wasted on 
civilizing them. Put simply, England should use whatever means it has in its 
disposal to force the Irish to conform to its laws and accept whatever plans it 
has for that society. 

The exercise of violence as an intrinsic aspect of colonial policy is 
advocated in A View even though a dialogue is formally instigated to discuss 
its viability and morality. The dialogue set up between Irenius and Eudoxius 
creates the effect of a fruitful discussion taking place, even though the reader 
is fiiUy aware that Irenius' voice is Spenser's. Predictably, Spenser makes 
Eudoxius question Irenius' assertion that use of the sword is necessary to 
England's colonization of Ireland: "Is not the sword the most violent redress 
that may be used for any evil" (p. 95)? Articulating the Spenserian perspective, 
Irenius argues that the use of military might is impressive when no other 
remedy is available for reforming the evils of Ireland. Force and violence 
occupy an important place in Irenius' schemes for the subjugation of Ireland. 
Irenius, for example, imposes a twenty-day limit for the Irish rebels to 
surrender, a period of grace not extended to the rebel leaders. He wants to kill 
the ringleaders and their followers who do not capitulate at the right moment. 

Even as Spenser's A View supports a colonial policy that makes use of 
force in Ireland, it fmds itself unable to carry out that program to its logical 
conclusion. The inability of the text to sustain its relentless imperial logic 
stems from particular anxieties, such as the sudden need to ensure that reader 
sensibility is not harassed as well as the simple incapacity to conceptualize a 
systematic program of annihilation. For schemes of the magnitude and 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 61 

sensitivity Spenser articulates and propagates cannot exist independent of 
reactions generated in the Elizabethan court. One of the most interesting 
moments in the text in which a trenchantly argued position gets radically 
revised is Irenius' re-writing of the literal meaning of force: 

for by the sword which I named I do not mean the cutting off of all that nation 
with the sword, which far be it from me that ever I should think so 
desperately or wish so uncharitably, but by the sword I mean the royal power 
of the prince, which ought to stretch itself forth in her chief strength, to the 
redressing and cutting off of those evils which I before blamed, and not of 
the people which are evil; for evil people by good ordinance and government 
may be made good, but the evil that is of itself evil will never become good. 

(p. 95) 

Here we find that literal signification is suddenly forced into a metaphorical 
framework, a backpaddling that suggests that Spenser felt the need to deal with 
the ethics of his proposition or to accomodate a court audience which might be 
averse to such violent schemes.^"* 

The colonial energies of Spenser' s text cannot be questioned, but too often 
these energies are read and interpreted as a reflection of policies endorsed by 
the court. Elizabeth's court is divided in its responses to the colonization of 
Ireland. The tensions one finds in Spenser's A View can be attributed to 
pressures exerted on the production of the text by opposing views found in the 
court. Ludovick Bryskett had identified Lord Grey as the embodiment of 
justice required to salvage a lawless Ireland. Then Sir Walter Ralegh, in 
conjunction with Lord Burghley, drew up a plan to confiscate 4,000 acres of 
Munster and distribute this land to English tenants, on the basis of Rdegh's 
proposals for settlement in the New World.^^ The colonial ambitions shared by 
Burghley, Ralegh, Bryskett, and Spenser were not accepted by everyone. It is 
worth remembering that Spenser's A View was written in response to Queen 
Elizabeth's vacillating and placatory policies in dealing with the Irish ques- 

In general, Elizabeth's attitude toward Ireland was more defensive than 
aggressive. Elizabeth simply wanted to ensure that Ireland would not become 
a jumping off point by her enemies.^^ Renwick comments on the permanent 
strategic problem posed by Ireland: 

England was at war with Spain, and the flanks of England rest beyond the 
narrow seas, in the Low Countries and in Ireland. Nobody has ever wanted 
Ireland very badly, but no English government could feel secure while the 
long western seaboard was open to invasion from across St. George's 

62 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Channel, and every foreign enemy — Scots, Spanish, French, German — 
has attempted to open that flank. 

(p. 181) 

Not liking wars, Elizabeth was also never keen on spending vast sums of 
money. It is especially significant, for example, that England never occupied 
any territory claimed by Spain after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1 588. 
England had the resources to win victories, but Elizabeth recognized that she 
did not possess the financial means required to retain any conquest. The 
Spanish and Portuguese possessions still remained intact when James I made 
peace with Spain in 1604. The reluctance to ransack her coffers for money to 
be spent on wars also influenced Elizabeth' s attitude toward Ireland. The revolt 
that smouldered for several years in Munster with James Fitzmaurice 
Fitzgerald's rebellion was made possible because Elizabeth could not afford 
a major expedition. Only after Ireland threatened to become independent with 
assistance from King Philip of Spain, who sent money and even another 
armada to support the cause of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, did Elizabeth 
dispatch the Earl of Essex to Ireland with about 20,000 men. Before commis- 
sioning Essex to remove the threat posed by Tyrone, Elizabeth had already 
spent one million pounds on Ireland.^^ And Essex, to Elizabeth's tremendous 
anger, lost nearly 300,000£ in his march about Ireland to subdue Tyrone. That 
the expenses of the Irish war proved to be a great embarrassment for Elizabeth 
is evidenced in a letter she wrote to Henry IV, the French monarch, in 
December 1 600, pressing him to pay back the money she lent him for his wars. 
Shortly after in January 1601, she sent him another letter once again pressing 
for repayment of the French debt.^' 

One would expect that, in his efforts to convince the Queen and her court 
that the complete subjugation of Ireland provides the most viable answer to the 
Irish question, Spenser would have taken the opportunity to play up anti- 
Catholic feelings in A View; he had, after all, attacked Catholicism quite openly 
in The Faerie Queene. Interestingly enough, unlike The Faerie Queene, A 
View relegates the religious question to the background. Even though A View 
uses the word "reformation" in referring to the schemes it propagates for 
reconstituting Ireland, invoking invariably the cultural antagonisms existing 
between Protestantism and Catholicism registered so trenchantly in The 
Faerie Queene, it does not work with the strict theological significations of the 
term. In A View, the word "reformation" signifies in a primary secular sense. 
If all of Ireland, as Spenser writes, including its poets who are the traditional 
custodians of culture and values, is caught up in the disastrous love for "lewd 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 63 

liberty* (p. 74), then a "thorough reformation of that realm" (p. 75) is needed. 
Spenser's A View is more concerned with ordering secular affairs than 
with religious and theological ones. This particular emphasis announces the 
overtly political dimensions of the text and its status as a blueprint for the 
English colonization of Ireland. Even the important and sensitive issue of 
religion is not allowed to intrude into and detract from the imperial project of 
subjugating Ireland. Irenius declares: "Little have I to say of religion, both 
because the parts thereof be not many, itself being but one, and myself have not 
been much conversant in that calling, but as lightly passing by I have seen or 
heard" (p. 84). He repeats himself toward the end of A View: 

For religion little have I to say myself, being (as I said) not professed therein, 
and itself being but one, so as there is but one way therein, for that which is true 
only is and the rest are not at all; yet in planting of religion thus much is needful 
to be observed, that it be not sought forcibly to be impressed into them with 
terror and sharp penalties, as now is the manner, but rather delivered and 
intimated with mildness and gentleness, so as it may not be hated before it be 
understood, and their professors despised and rejected. 

(p. 161) 

Irenius argues that salvaging a diseased body must precede saving a diseased 
soul. The metaphor of cleansing the diseased body of Ireland runs through 
Spenser' s text. England is figured as a physician; and any recuperation of Irish 
society involves first excising the original body. Reforming the soul of Ireland 
can only follow after the complete dismantling of the social body. Because 
Irenius is much more concerned with overhauling the entire social fabric of 
Irish society, he can only respond to the subject of its religion in remarkably 
general terms. 

In addition to "reformation," the word "liberty" also functions in A View 
as a pejorative term. Anticipating Matthew Arnold's critique of those who 
favor and practise the liberty of doing as one likes, Spenser applies the term to 
the rampant lawlessness ravaging Irish society. The Irish love for "liberty" (or 
"libertinism"), Spenser writes, extends into their literary expressions. While 
celebrating what is good and virtuous in their lays, the Irish poets sing in praise 
of boldness and lawlessness. 

The authority Irenius assumes in speaking about Ireland and its history 
derives from the vantage point of the colonialist articulating from a position of 
privilege and superiority. Invoking Herodotus, Spenser's Irenius depicts 
himself as a historian, traveller, anthropologist, and commentator of culture. 
All these identities are defined from a colonialist perspective: there is, most 

64 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

importantly, no attempt made by Irenius to render an accurate portrayal of Irish 
culture. Irenius does not pretend to be a careful handler of his sources. He 
confesses to Eudoxius that because the Irish chronicles cannot be relied upon 
to yield an accurate portrayal of historical truth, his reading of Irish history 
involves a rewriting of his sources: 

but unto them [the writings of the bards and chroniclers] besides I add my 
own reading and out of them both together with comparison of times, 
likeness of manners and customs, affinity of words and names, properties of 
natures and uses, resemblances of rites and ceremonies, monuments of 
churches and tombs, and many other like circumstances, I do gather a 
likelihood of truth; not certainly affirming anything, but by conferring of 
times, languages, monuments and suchlike, I do hunt out a probability of 
things which I leave unto your judgement to believe or refuse. 

(p. 39) 

Irenius' bold declaration that he has no compunction whatsoever rewriting 
Irish history highlights the openly imperialist thrust of Spenser' s text. It is clear 
that he does not want to compromise his position concerning England's 
legitimate subjugation of Ireland. 

Throughout most of A View, Irenius presents the picture of a rebellious and 
intransigent Irish to persuade the English that it is necessary to bring them 
under tight control. This theme cannot, however, sustain itself without inter- 
ruption. Toward the end of A View, for example, the portrait of the Irish, who 
must be made to fit an English system of laws is softened. The Irish can be made 
to "become somewhat more civil" (p. 1 5 1 ). The focus of criticism now falls on the 
English-Irish, that detested product of intermingling. And yet, in spite of the fact 
that Irenius has spoken so much about the potential and actual evils of mingling, 
the English-Irish interactions appear to be an option Spenser must entertain: 

And therefore, since Ireland is full of her own nation that may not be rooted 
out, and somewhat stored with English already and more to be, I think it best 
by an union of manners and conformity of minds, to bring them to be one 
people, and to put away the dislikeful concept both of the one and the other, 
which will be by no means better than by this intermingling of them, that 
neither all the Irish may dwell together, nor all the English, but by translating 
of them, and scattering them in small numbers amongst the English, not only 
to bring them by daily conversation unto better liking of each other, but also 
to make both of them less able to hurt. 

(p. 153) 

Eudoxius' response to Irenius vision repeats what the latter has been saying 
throughout much of the dialogue, that the Irish and the English can never merge 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 65 

without producing disastrous results. His reiteration of Irenius' political 
position is especially ironic as Spenser's spokesman for Irish colonization now 
produces a counter-narrative that undermines the thrust of his own general 
discourse. The shift in Irenius' position provides an instance of how the desire 
to create a new society ex nihilo, following the lines of Machiavelli's deep 
fantasies, runs aground when confronted with the economic reality of obtain- 
ing support for and actualizing the colonial enterprise. Spenser is forced to 
recognize that it is difficult to sustain the view that Irish nature is completely 
impervious to acculturation just as it is impossible to realize the fantasy of 
recreating a new Ireland out of nothing. 

One of the most vocal expressions of Spenser's forced recognition that 
any colonial project must work with existing structures is found toward the 
conclusion of A View, where the use of military force to compel submission is 
replaced by a program of ordering the work patterns of the Irish and improving 
the shambled lay-out of the land. The earlier emphasis on violence is mitigated 
as the text now focuses on domestic life and geographical planning. At this 
point, the reader must interpret the nature of the shift. Has Spenser discovered 
that he is unable to push his program of military action in Ireland to its logical 
conclusion? Or does this shift represent yet another strategy in the overall 
thrust of the narrative toward procuring absolute control over Ireland? The 
answer is found in an interweaving of these two possibilities, for Spenser's 
inability to sustain his program of militaristic intervention means he has to 
produce an alternative program, one which does not in this case erase the English 
ability to enact surveillance and control. Irenius advocates promoting the practice 
of husbandry because he believes this would help to civilize the Irish; he also 
speaks as a humanist when advancing the importance of education: 

in every country or barony [the Irish] should keep another able schoolmaster, 
which should instruct them in grammar and in the principles of sciences, to 
whom they should be compelled to send their youth to be disciplined, 
whereby they will in short time grow up to that civil conversation, that both 
the children will loathe the former rudeness in which they were bred, and 
also their parents will, even by ensample of their young children, perceive 
the foulness of their own brutish behaviour compared to theirs, for learning 
hath that wonderful power of itself that it can soften and temper the most 
stem and savage nature. 

(pp. 158-159) 

Education fosters discipline, which is necessary to break the Irish love of 
"liberty", translated by Irenius as "licentiousness" (p. 152). The project of 

66 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

civilizing a savage people through education cannot be separated from 
Spenser' s preoccupation with the need to install a network of surveillance and 
control in Ireland. Once garrisons are put in place, securing the presence of a 
military machine to fall back on in times of rebellion and violent unrest, then 
discipline can be exercised by redefining the geography and infrastructure of 
the land. Irenius propagates clearing pathways through woods, building 
market towns by the highways, repairing ruined churches, and erecting 
schoolhouses. Clearing pathways in the woods controls the activities of 
robbers; setting up watch stations along the straits obstructs rebel movements; 
erecting market towns promotes greater civility. The difference between 
having the presence of a military machine and procuring control of the 
infrastructure of a land is the difference between the open expression and 
concealed exercise of power.^^ Spenser knows that power is exercised most 
effectively when the body of the individual is controlled by documentation and 
made subject of analysis. In Spenser's England, as we have seen, this power 
is expressed symbolically in the spectacular rituals of torture and execution. 
As a blueprint for the colonization of Ireland, A View of the Present State 
of Ireland performs the rhetorical function of arguing for an imperialistic 
English foreign policy, but it does so by criticizing openly as well as indirectly 
opposition encountered in the court. It supports the actions and practices of 
Lord Grey, and concludes its polemic by calling for greater autonomy for the 
Lord Deputy to carry out his duties in Ireland. Exclusive right should be given 
to the Lord Deputy to exercise power when "present occasions" (p. 168) 
demand it. Without giving him "more ample and absolute" (p. 168) power, 
Ireland's reformation cannot be carried through to its conclusion. Irenius 
argues that time is an important factor that must be contended with in 
governing and administrating a hostile land. It is not always "possible fr the 
council here [in England] to direct a governor there [in Ireland] who shall be 
forced oftentimes to follow the necessity of present occasions and to take the 
sudden advantage of time, which being once left will not be recovered" (p. 
168). Invoking Machiavelli's animadversions on Livy in The Discourses (11, 
35),^^ Spenser outlines the repercussions of interfering with the Lord Deputy's 
duties — possible defeat for the colonial administration. Significantly, the 
Machiavellian context Spenser invokes is the context of war. Livy had written 
that apart from the power to initiate fresh wars and confirm peace treatises, the 
Roman Senate gives to its consuls, dictators, and army commanders full 
discretionary powers. Wars are won or lost depending on the degree of 
discretionary powers enjoyed by the commanders. The force of the analogy is 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 67 

powerful enough. Grey's need to control the anarchy in Ireland is no different 
from operating under conditions of war. The court may have men who possess 
considerable experience in matters of governance and war, but they do not 
operate directly in the field of action. To be in this field is to be placed in the 
position of having to make snap judgments in response to circumstantial 
exigencies. The luxury of waiting for orders to filter down from above after 
lengthy deliberations does not exist. 


In Book V of The Faerie Queene and in A View of the Present State of 
Ireland, Spenser's conception of justice is tied up immediately with the 
establishment of civil order and the expansion of the empire. When he 
associates Elizabeth's mercy with an antique past,^^ or when he contrasts it 
with the ideality of an interventionist foreign policy, Spenser wants the Queen 
to recognize that England's expansionist ambitions are essential for creating 
a powerful monarchy. That is why the exercise of martial force is central to 
Spenser's figurations of justice: only force can quell rebellion and ensure 
obedience. For Spenser, justice is also exercised by putting in place a well- 
defined system of surveillance and control. Book V and A View reveal how 
such strategies are well understood by the monarch who instills fear, under- 
mines dissent, and procures consent. These strategies operate in England, and 
they are also proposed by Spenser for enabling English colonial rule in Ireland. 
When Spenser addresses the subject of civil order and social stability in The 
Faerie Queene, he never separates their enforcement from a consideration of 
the consolidation of the English imperium. When he writes about enacting the 
demands of justice to secure this order and stability, he wants to extend that 
justice to control an intransigent Ireland. In Spenser's writings and political 
thought, justice functions as a synonym for power in its raw and highly 
polished forms.^^ 

National University of Singapore 

1 . Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, ed. Thomas P. Roche, Jr. (Lx)ndon: Penguin Books, 
1978, rpt. 1987). All citations of the text are to this edition. 

2. Edmund Spenser, A View of the Present State of Ireland, ed. W. L. Renwick (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1970). All citations of the text are to this edition. 

68 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

3 . For a sympathetic view of Grey ' s massacre of the troops who had surrendered at Smerwick, 
cf. Renwick's commentary, pp. 185-187. 

4. Readers have responded to the unfinished state of The Faerie Queene in different ways. 
Balachandra Rajan argues that as an "unfinished" poem, The Faerie Queene' s resistance to 
closure is signature of its particular ontological identity. Rajan' s mystification of the poem 
by giving it a life of its own is not convincing, but his summary and reading of editorial 
features and decisions in the 1590, 1596, and 1609 versions of the poem provide useful 
information on the history of its publication and development. Cf The Form of the 
Unfinished: English Poetics from Spenser to Pound (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1985), 44-84. Patricia Parker relates the poem's incomplete state to the digressive mode of 
Spenserian allegory in Inescapable Romance: Studies in the Poetics of a Mode (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1979), pp. 54-1 13. Making use of poststructuralist notions of 
deferral, Patricia Parker argues that this mode constitutes a form of the medieval and 
Renaissance concept of dilatatio. Spenser achieves "dilation" in his romance narrative 
through repetition and doubling, where fragments of one episode proliferate into others. 

5. Quoted by Renwick, p. 213. 

6. We are led to wonder whether a similar disappointment is registered in the Mercilla/Duessa 
episode, when Spenser appears to associate Elizabeth's mercy with the virtue of a bygone 
age. Spenser's suggestion that mercy is displaced at the present time compromises 
encomium in this episode. For a detailed analysis of this disruption of encomiastic praise, 
cf especially Thomas H. Cain, Praise in "The Faerie Queene" (Lincoln, University of 
Nebraska Press, 1978), pp. 144-145. Cain's Praise provides a useful study of Spenser's 
ambiguous celebration of Elizabeth in The Faerie Queene. 

7. For a cogent and powerful reading of the politics of Spenser's allegory in Book V of The 
Faerie Queene, cf David Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance 
(Lx)ndon: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), pp. 109-313. In his study, Norbrook also 
addresses, in much more balanced fashion, the interests of recent feminist, poststructuralist, 
and new historicist criticism — gender politics, textual ambiguities, Enghsh imperialism. 

8. Cited in Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance, p. 117. 

9. Other reasons have been offered to explain the censorship of Spenser's A View. Jonathan 
Goldberg argues that Spenser's Machiavellian analysis of Ireland reveals the darker side of 
a political and cultural discourse that had defined itself through the language of eternity and 
myths of chivalry. Cf. Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature: Jonson, 
Shakespeare, Donne, and their Contemporaries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 
1989), p. 9. Clark Hulse suggests that Spenser's perception that the Anglo-Irish posed a 
major obstacle to his vision of Irish colonization, aimed fundamentally at subjection and not 
reconciliation, was in direct conflict with Elizabeth's own view. The Queen herself had 
counted on the Anglo-Irish to reconcile the cultures of England and Ireland. Cf. Clark Hulse, 
"Spenser, Bacon, and the Myth of Power," in The Historical Renaissance: New Essays on 
Tudor and Stuart Literature and Culture, ed. Heather Dubrow and Richard Strier (Chicago 
and London: University of Chicago Press, 1988), pp. 329-330. 

1 0. Maureen Quilligan, Milton 's Spenser: The Politics of Reading (Ithaca and London: Cornell 
University Press, 1983), p. 68. 

Walter S. H. Lim / Figuring Justice / 69 

11. Sir Walter Ralegh, Selected Writings, éd. Gerald Hammond (Manchester: Carcenet Press, 
1984), pp. 76-123. 

12. Francis Bacon, The Essays, ed. John Pitcher (London: Penguin Books, 1985): cf. "Of 
Judicature," p. 225. 

13. Certaine Sermons or Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches in the Time ofQueene 
Elizabeth I (1547-1571), introd. M. E. Rickey and T. B. Stroup (Gainesville: Scholars 
Facsimiles and Reprints, 1968), p. 69. 

14. Jonathan Goldberg puts it this way: "James's complaint to Elizabeth is extraordinary 
because the poet's words have become the mediating terms in the struggle for power 
between the two monarchs — James continually wanting assurances that his mother's 
treason did not bar his way to the English throne, Elizabeth recalcitrantly withholding her 
wishes for a successor": cf. James I and the Politics of Literature, p. 2. Goldberg discusses 
at some length James' response to the Mercilla/Duessa episode and Spenser's representa- 
tion of power in Book V and A View (pp. 1-17). 

1 5. For a study of the relationship between ritual dismemberment as theater and the hermeneutics 
of censorship, cf. Annabel Patterson, Censorship and Interpretation: The Conditions of 
Writing and Reading in Early Modem England (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 
1984), especially pp. 52-127. 

1 6. Curt Breight, "Treason doth Never Prosper' : The Tempest and the Discourse of Treason," 
Shakespeare Quarterly, 41 (1990), p. 4. 

17. James Nohmberg, The Analogy of "The Faerie Queene" (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 1976), p. 410. For a more elaborate reading of Talus' relationship to power and law, 
cf. Jane Aptekar, Icons of Justice: Iconography and Thematic Imagery in Book V of "The 
Faerie Queene" (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp. 108-124. 

1 8. For a discussion of the use of force and fraud in the Machiavellian prince' s exercise of justice 
and law, cf. Aptekar, Icons of Justice, pp. 108-124. Aptekar also provides an interesting 
account of how the emblem of the crocodile in Book V highlights justice as an ambivalent 
principle, cf. pp. 87-107. 

19. John Milton, Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. Don Wolfe & al. 8 vols. (New 
Haven: Yale University Press, 1953-1982), 3:202. All references to Milton's prose works 
are to this edition and will subsequently be designated as Yale. 

20. This position is succinctly articulated by Stephen Greenblatt in Renaissance Self-Fashion- 
ing: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 
pp. 157-192. 

21 . Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa (Oxford and New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 21. 

22. Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 86. 

23. Machiavelli, The Discourses, trans. Leslie J. Walker and ed. Bernard Crick (London: 
Penguin Books, 1970), pp. 175-177. 

70 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

24. Too often, readers of A View find Spenser's endorsement of England's use of the sword to 
subdue the Irish consistent and uncompromising throughout the text. In a recent study, for 
example, Andrew Hadfield, in "Spenser, Ireland, and Sixteenth-Century Political Theory," 
Modem Language Review, 89 (1994), argues that "'The royal power of the prince' is what 
makes the metaphor of the sword possible; it stands as the master trope, free from the 
contingent nature of other analogies and representations. The 'sword' must reassert its right 
to rule Ireland and clear the ground for the legal reform which cannot take place without its 
effective sanction" (p. 5). This view misses out on important fissures in Spenser's text, 
fissures that draw our attention not only to the difficulties encountered in articulating a 
coherent colonialist program, but also to the presence of an extra-textual court politics which 
A View must engage. 

25. Roger Lockier, Tudor and Stuart Britain 1471-1714 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1964), 
p. 160. 

26. Ibid., 1^. 159. 
21. Ibid., ^. 160. 

28. Christopher Hibbert, The Virgin Queene: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age (New York: 
Addison-Wesley, 1991), p. 238. 

29. Translations of the French letters written by Elizabeth are found in Elizabeth I, The Letters 
of Queen Elizabeth, ed. G. B. Harrison (London: Cassell, 1935), pp. 280-283. 

30. Interestingly, Spenser understood well before Michel Foucault that discipline can be 
enacted by the State through different social institutions. In Discipline and Punish: The 
Birth of the Prison (trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Random House, 1977), Foucault writes 
about how the architectures of the camp, hospital, and school have served to facilitate 
surveillance and exercise control in the interests of the State. According to Foucault, 
discipline is "the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as subjects and 
instruments of its exercise" (p. 170). Foucault also argues that control over detail generates 
real power: "A meticulous observation of detail, and at the same time a political awareness 
of these small things, for the control and use of men, emerge through the classical age 
bearing with them a whole set of techniques, a whole corpus of methods and knowledge, 
descriptions, plans and data" (p. 141). Institutions like schools and hospitals make possible 
the description, anatomy, documentation, and hence control and domination of the indi- 

31. Machiavelli, The Discourses, pp. 381-382. 

32. Cf. note 6 above. 

33. This essay first suggested itself to me when I participated in Professor Richard Strier' s 
Summer Seminar of the (U.S.) National Endowment for the Humanities — "Renaissance 
and Reformation in Tudor-Stuart England" — at the University of Chicago in 199 1 . 1 must 
express my debt to Professor Strier who introduced me to the politics of Spenser's A View, 
and whose generous sharing of ideas gave me much needed material for writing the essay. 

Book Reviews 
Comptes rendus 

John W. O'Malley. The First Jesuits. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 
1993. Pp. xiv, 457. 

This is a book for people who think they know the Society of Jesus. From the sixteenth 
century onward, many Catholics found its name presumptuous, its theology suspect, 
and its methods Machiavellian. Protestants could be freer in their invective, and 
attacked the Jesuits with relish as the pre-eminent Counter-Reformation force: an 
order sprung fully armed from the head of the Tridentine Zeus, wielding specious logic 
and slippery ethics, blindly obedient to the papal antichrist, and all too threateningly 
successful in its missionary activities . Secular histories offered a reheated protestantism 
without denominational peculiarities, sure of the bigotry of all religious zealots and 
happy to demonstrate undiscriminating objectivity by consigning both Ignatius and 
Calvin to the same ash heap. The Jesuits responded with in-house hagiographies whose 
uncritical and iiimioderate praise for the Society and its members seemed only to 
confirm the worst suspicions of the critics. The invective has cooled, but the stereotype 
Ungers. To adopt John Bossy's terminology, the Jesuits are often assumed to be models 
of the world-oriented, obedience-ordered, clerically-directed "Christianity Trans- 
lated" that replaces the more conmiunitarian, sacramental, and lay-oriented "Tradi- 
tional Christianity" of the pre-Reformation period. But are they? 

John O' Malley does not directly engage the Society ' s historical or current critics, 
but his analysis of its history to 1565 demonstrates how wrong much of our confident 
stereotyping is. The first Jesuits were in many ways the exponents of "Traditional 
Christianity" who were hardly aware of how Christianity was being Translated around 
and within them. O'Malley's careful explication of the resulting paradoxes and 
contradictions gives a more nuanced view of the Society and, like William Bouwsma's 
John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait (19SS), forces us to introduce uncertainty, 
tension, and moderation into our image of sixteenth-century religious reformers. 

O' Malley aims to understand the first Jesuits as they understood themselves, 
recapturing their "way of proceeding" from early documents, and determining how 

72 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

their response to the situations they found themselves in shaped the evolution of both 
their ministry and their self-perception. The first part of the book deals with their work 
(preaching, worship, charity, and education), and the second with their culture or context 
(contemporary intellectual movements, relations to the Church, institutional evolution). 
Ministry and self-perception evolved in four general phases. The first, to 1540, was the 
period of gestation when the companions first banded together around the Spiritual 
Exercises and a conmiitment to missions. In the second phase, from 1540 to 1548, the 
Jesuits moved more deliberately into itinerant preaching and institutional charity. They 
saw themselves as catalysts for lay piety, preaching, lecturing, catechizing, and fostering 
charitable confi^atemities that worked with orphans, debtors, prostitutes and other 
marginalized groups. Their emphasis on "spiritual consolation" animated and united 
these activities, and led them to avoid hierarchical entanglements as much as possible. 

The third phase, from 1548 to 1559, was the most critical and controversial. By 
choice, necessity, and circumstance, an institutional identity began to supplant the 
charismatic movement. With the printing of the Spiritual Exercises (hitherto available 
only in manuscript), and the clarification of administrative procedures in the Consti- 
tutions, the character of the Society became more fixed. Lines of obedience became 
more definite as Ignatius and his secretary carried vast, detailed correspondence with 
far-flung individuals and houses. Ecclesiastical opposition stiffened with the Paris 
Theological Faculty's formal condemnation of the Society in 1554, and the election 
of the largely hostile Giampietro Carafa as Pope Paul IV in 1555. External threats 
received internal echoes after Ignatius died in 1556, triggering a two-year crisis over 
whether the direction he had taken would be maintained, or if the Society itself could 
survive. Perhaps most significantly, this was also the period in which the Jesuits 
opened their first schools for the public (Messina, 1548) and for their own members 
(Collegio Romano, 1551; Collegio Germanico, 1552). O'Malley offers an excellent 
description of these institutions and their curriculum, and demonstrates how they 
gradually became the tail that wagged the dog, profoundly shaping Jesuit ministry, 
communal life, and self-definition. 

The fourth phase, from 1559 to 1565, was a period of confirmation and 
consolidation. Paul IV died, Paris cooled its opposition, Ignatius' successor was 
elected, and the Constitutions were confirmed. The schools and foreign missions 
multiplied. As the Catholic Church moved into a Counter-Reformation mode, the 
Society followed, and its changing shape opened up contradictions and paradoxes. It 
supported Trent, but adamantly abstained from episcopacy and pastorates that were the 
chief agencies of Tridentine reform. It condemned Erasmus, but promoted his religious 
and cultural ideals in the schools. It embraced scolasticism, but promoted a mystical 
theology. It adopted an increasingly authoritarian approach, but modified this with 
appreciation for individual charisma, inner inspiration, and Aristotelian moderation. 

Through examination of these and other paradoxes, O'Malley offers a counter- 
point to the stereotype of Jesuit dogmatism and blind obedience. The first Jesuits 
practised a flexibility bom of a mystical spirituality and pastoral theology. Their 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 73 

conviction that God deals directly with believers, "heart to heart," led them to orient 
spiritual consolation to concrete situations rather than abstract doctrines, and pre- 
vented them from absolutizing the ecclesiastical institutions that they defended. 
Predictably, this conviction also led them into trouble with Catholics who found their 
approach too Erasmic, Lutheran, or opportunistic. By the end of the century, these 
convictions, born in Bossy's Traditional Christianity, were being Translated, and the 
Society with it. Seeking to preserve peace and avoid controversy, the Society became 
more cautious and conventional; it moved towards the stereotype which historians 
later associated with it, and which they often projected back to its origins. One could 
wish that O'Malley would have examined this process in more detail, but his analysis 
of the Jesuit "style," and his emphasis on seeing that style as constituting Jesuit 
"substance," clarifies both how the first Jesuits differed from their successors, and why 
their mutation — or Translation — was inevitable. 

NICHOLAS TERPSTRA, University ofRegina 

Galileo Galilei, Le messager des étoiles, traduit et présenté par Femand 
Hallyn. Paris, Seuil, 1992. 

Jamais observations et découvertes astronomiques n'auront eu une portée aussi 
révolutionnaire que celles effectuées par Galilée durant les quelques mois de l'hiver 
1609-1610. Braquant sa lunette sur les cieux, il allait résoudre la Voie Lactée en une 
myriade d'étoiles individuelles, voir les irrégularités de la surface lunaire, et, surtout, 
découvrir les "planètes médicéennes," les quatre satellites de Jupiter. 

"La Lune est comme la Terre," nous dit son traducteur: elle est aussi imparfaite 
que la Terre, elle est de même matière que la Terre et elle a perdu le privilège de la 
sphéricité parfaite qui seule convient à la perfection des astres. Mais aussi, 
stratégiquement, pour rendre tolerable l'abandon du géocentrisme, "la Terre est 
comme la Lune," elle est, elle aussi, un corps céleste, de même dignité que les autres, 
de même vertu que les autres: vue de l'espace, ou vue de la Lune, la Terre est lumineuse 
puisqu'elle est la cause de cette lumière cendrée dont s'illumine la Lune en ses 
premiers jours. Et les satellites de Jupiter montrent que ni la Terre, ni même le soleil 
ne sont les centres absolus du monde, puisque Jupiter également a sa couronne de 

C'est tout cela qu'annonce Galilée en son Sidereus Nuncius, soit qu'il se soit fait 
lui-même le "Messager des étoiles," soit qu' il se soit borné à transmettre leur message: 
les deux traductions sont possibles. 

Le récit de ces découvertes révolutionnaires forme un mince volume de 56 pages 
qui se lit aisément en une soirée, et le lecteur d'aujourd'hui se sent encore emporté par 
l'enthousiasme de Galilée, qui voyait un monde nouveau s'ouvrir devant lui. Le style 

74 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

est à la hauteur des révélations proposées: style sublime au sens de la tradition 
rhétorique, propre à élever l'esprit, propre aussi à l'inciter à dépasser les limites 
naturelles de la perception. Ce style, pour autant, n'est jamais emphatique, et il 
convainc parce qu' il communique effectivement l'émerveillement ressenti par Galilée. 
Cela est particulièrement vrai pour le récit des observations cruciales, effectuées 
durant les nuits de janvier-février, alors que Galilée découvrit ces étoiles nouvelles qui 
accompagnaient Jupiter, qu' il prit d' abord pour des fixes, mais en lesquelles, nuit après 
nuit, l'évidence des observations le força à reconnaître les propres satellites de Jupiter. 
Le style, ici, est tout empreint d'une sobriété grandiose: simple compte rendu 
d'observations minutieuses, d'autant plus convaincant que le lecteur suit pas à pas la 
genèse, dans l'esprit de Galilée, de la nouvelle hypothèse. Le 7 janvier il vit pour la 
première fois l'alignement de trois étoiles, deux à gauche, l'une à droite de la planète. 
Le lendemain, "nescio quo Fato ductus," ce fut, dit-il, par hasard qu' il dirigea sa lunette 
vers Jupiter: à son étonnement, les trois petites étoiles s'alignaient toutes à gauche. 
Aussi comprend-on son impatience à attendre la nuit suivante — et le lecteur partage 
la déception de Galilée car, le 9 janvier, "de tous côtés le ciel était couvert de nuages." 
Et ce ne fut que le 13 janvier que, pour la première fois, les quatre satellites s'offraient, 
ensemble, à son regard. 

Derrière tout cela, il y avait la lunette, dont Galilée aurait bien aimé pouvoir 
revendiquer l'invention. Il en avait entendu parler une première fois en mai ou juin 
1609, et, prétend-il, il aurait réussi par lui-même à en reconstruire un exemplaire à 
partir des minces renseignements qu'il avait pu en obtenir. Il n'en dit pas plus, se 
réservant pour plus tard d'exposer "la théorie complète de cet instrument." Cette 
théorie ne viendra jamais, et l'ébauche qu' il en donne dans le Messager ne pouvait que 
le conduire vers une impasse. En effet, Galilée décrit le fonctionnement de sa lunette 
en supposant que les rayons lumineux sont émis par l'oeil de l'observateur. Or, si tel 
était le cas, la réfraction due à l'objectif devrait nécessairement avoir l'effet inverse de 
celui que Galilée en attendait: exactement comme s'il faisait ses observations "par le 
gros bout de la lunette." Mais plus étonnant encore est le diagramme dont Galilée 
accompagne son explication, qui montre clairement, conrnie il fallait s'y attendre, que 
si les rayons visuels étaient émis par l'oeil et non par l'objet, l'objet serait vu dans la 
lunette sous un angle moindre que ne le voit l'oeil nu. 

Notons que, selon ce que Galilée lui-même en dit, le pouvoir séparateur de sa 
lunette aurait été de "une ou deux minutes." Le traducteur, suite à E. Namer, qu'il cite, 
et en se fondant sur "les distances proposées dans la suite du texte" croit légitime de 
corriger minute en seconde. Voilà qui est extrêmement peu probable. Sauf pour une 
distance angulaire de "30 minutes," mentionnée en page 151, qui doit manifestement 
être corrigée en autant de secondes, conmie le signale le traducteur en sa note 54, les 
mesures sont données par Galilée lui-même en minutes et en secondes, ce qui ne laisse 
guère de place à la confusion. D'autre part, on peut exclure que la lunette de Galilée, 
pour un diamètre d'objectif ne dépassant pas 3 cm. et un grossisement de 30x, ait pu 
séparer mieux que 5 sec. d'arc, ce qui serait la valeur théorique pour un instrument de 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 75 

qualité optique frôlant la perfection. Ce n'était certainement pas le cas de celui de 
Galilée qui, en février 161 1, ne réussit pas à distinguer les anneaux de Saturne, mais 
imagina que le corps de la planète était muni d'excroissances latérales ou que deux 
petites planètes étaient accolées à la grande. Une lunette capable de séparer un arc 
d'une ou deux secondes devrait permettre, avec grossissement suffisant, de voir très 
nettement, non pas un, mais deux anneaux distincts. 

Fernand Hallyn, qui signe cette traduction, s 'est déjà signalé par plusieurs articles 
et ouvrages traitant des différents aspects de la rhétorique au temps de la Renaissance. 
Comme on pouvait donc s'y attendre, sa traduction, intégrale et non partielle comme 
celle de E. Namer, est heureuse: claire et précise, littéraire et fidèle. C'est bien 
pourquoi la lecture de ce très grand texte de l'histoire des sciences transmet encore 
aujourd'hui quelque chose de l'émotion sublime que 1' "inventeur" des planètes 
médicéennes a ressentie. 

De nombreuses notes et remarques accompagnent le texte et donnent l' information 
requise à sa bonne compréhension, tandis qu'une excellente introduction en donne les 
différents "moments." Défilent ainsi une histoire de la lunette, situant son invention 
entre "le travail de l'artisan" et "l'oeovre magique;" une présentation du texte 
proprement dit et du paratexte qui l'enveloppe, avec une attention spéciale sur les 
ressorts rhétoriques qui y sont mis à l'oeuvre. On y trouve, évidenmient aussi, une 
analyse de l' impact des découvertes galiléennes, des résistances et refus auxquels elles 
se heurtèrent, et des objections de principe qui furent élevées contre l'usage même de 
la lunette qui, disait-on, élargissait artificiellement le champ de notre expérience. Un 
bon "glossaire" facilite la lecture du texte; on regrette cependant le manque d'index 
et de bibliographie. 

Et finalement, on donnera une note toute spéciale à la présentation matérielle de 
l'ouvrage, particulièrement soignée, tant du point de vue esthétique que de sa 
maniabilité et de la lisibilité du texte et du soin exceptionnel donné à la mise en page: 
c'est un beau livre. Les notes, qui apparaissent en marge et non en bas de page, sont 
"à portée de l'oeil," facilitant encore la lecture d'un texte en soi fascinant. Avec cette 
nouvelle collection Sources du savoir, les Éditions du Seuil veulent remettre en 
circulation les textes fondamentaux du savoir scientifique. Cet ouvrage, un des 
premiers titres de la collection, témoigne pleinement de l'intérêt de l'entreprise, et 
augure bien de sa réussite. 

LOUIS VALCKE, Université de Sherbrooke 

76 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Martin Wamke. The Court Artist: On the Ancestry of the Modem Artist. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Pp. xx, 299. 

David Howarth, ed. Art and Patronage in the Caroline Courts. Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1993. Pp. xvii, 303. 

The study of the history of court art provides an important contribution to our 
understanding of the conditioning of artists through social institutions. Courts were vital 
in shaping artistic self-understanding and encouraging uniqueness. The two books 
discussed here deal with the subject of court art in very different ways. While Wamke 
traces the history of court artists in an encyclopedic manner from the early Middle Ages 
to the early nineteenth century, Howarth, on the other hand, follows the pattern of a 
festsschrift, selecting essays by various scholars who focus on the era of Van Dyck. 

Martin Wamke, a professor of art history at the University of Hamburg, originally 
published this book in 1985 in German, calling it a pre-history of the modem artist. 
This publication is part of the series "Ideas in Context" which has as its goal both a 
contextual and an interdisciplinary approach to historical phenomena. Wamke' s book 
originated in the mid 1960s as an examination of the court of Mantua. However, it 
continued to grow in scope and format until it almost overwhelmed him, as he 
confesses in the preface. 

Although it is well organized into four parts and 23 smaller sections, readers have 
to work patiently through the vast amount of information. At times, almost half the 
page is set in smaller print, composed in quasi-footnote style with quotes and 
references in Italian, French and Spanish (but not German), and there are additional 
footnotes at the bottom of most pages. Wamke admits that his wish to publish this book 
without any illustrations was "somewhat eccentric"; but when one considers the 
number of artists, works and places mentioned, this wish becomes less eccentric while 
remaining unusual. One cannot help but wish Wamke had approached his material in 
a less democratic way, highlighting some artists in greater depth, and providing an 
occasional interpretation, rather than accumulating so many details. But, apparently, 
interpretation was not the intention of the book. 

While one admires Wamke' s diligence, one can also find cause for some 
reservation: events such as the granting of gifts and titles are recounted chronologi- 
cally, and yet these facts are insufficiendy contextualized due to the brevity of the 
discussion. For example, the same title or gift for an artist may have very different 
cultural implications depending on where it was conferred (such as Bohemia or 
England) or when (such as the Middle Ages or the Baroque). Thus, facts are stated 
without sufficient allowance for changed political and societal circumstances. 

The most valuable theme emerging from this wealth of information is the 
perspective of the uniqueness, self-confidence and public importance of the court 
artist. This status was not the result of the cultural climate of early Renaissance city 
states, as has been previously believed, but was much rather a direct outcome of the 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 77 

artist's prestige at the courts of early modern Europe. This status was, however, bought 
at the price of obligations, limitations and frustrations encountered at court which 
would stand in the way of full artistic freedom and emancipation. 

The most reflective and philosophical part of the book is the conclusion which 
makes allowance for "A look back in anger," as Warnke calls the conclusion (pp. 243- 
259), since a court artist's life was fraught with psychological bondage, political 
propaganda, moral acquiescence and spiritual conformity. Nevertheless, what the 
modern artist has "inherited from the court artist," Warnke observes, is "a radical claim 
to freedom and the right to realize his potential as he chooses." In this way, artists 
"retained their former consciousness of a higher destiny for the arts," while the history 
of the court artist is actually "the history of their suffering." 

Here we find the perpetuation of the myth of the heroic male artist as tragic, lonely 
and exceptional. One can raise doubts concerning this generalization. Is the court artist 
syndrome the qualifying mark of artistic genius in the European tradition? What about 
artists that do not fit this pattern of having been forged in the conflict and crisis of court 
life, such as Brueghel or Rembrandt? Was their self-understanding less developed 
because they lived and worked in a middle class environment? And where are all the 
women artists of these past centuries? Only a few of them (such as Sophonisba 
Anguisciola and Angelica Kauffinann) are briefly mentioned, while many others, who 
were influential court artists (such as Artemisia Gentileschi or Elizabeth Vigée- 
Lebrun) are missing from the pages of this huge, and yet incomplete, undertaking. 

The 14 essays collected in Art and Patronage in the Caroline Courts were written 
in honour of Sir Oliver Millar, a foremost authority on English seventeenth-century art. 
Half of the essays focus on painting, especially on portraiture connected with Van 
Dyck, but also on artists such as Lely and Kneller. Two essays discuss architectural 
aspects (especially Inigo Jones), another one concerns itself with tomb sculpture, while 
two others are concerned with etching and with manuscripts about artistic techniques. 
These diverse studies are the result of a collaboration of British, American, and Canadian 
museum curators as well as scholars of art, history and literature; the essays are aptly 
edited by David Howarth, an art historian at the University of Edinburgh. 

Patronage took various and unexpected forms during this crucial time in the 
history of England, when foreign artists were more likely to be welcomed by princely 
collectors than by local artists. While both Holbein and Van Dyck were highly 
favoured at court because of their unequalled skills in portraiture (which was essential 
to the monarchy), they were at the same time bitterly opposed by the so-called 
"Painters-Stainers Company" (p. 32) which saw its livelihood threatened by these 
intruders. The documentation of this London-based company allows valuable insight 
into an otherwise little known cultural and political aspect of society during the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

The most fascinating essay of the book, as far as women's issues are concerned, 
is the discussion of "The Great Picture of Lady Anne Clifford" (pp. 202-219), a 
triptych attributed to Jan van Belcamp. The author of the essay, Graham Parry, traces 

78 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

with great sensitivity and precision the details of this unique visual document of 1 646. 
In its carefiil arrangement of portraiture and still life the work reveals not only Lady 
Anne's prominent ancestry but also her fine education and strength of character as 
suggested by the kinds of books depicted in the background. She commissioned this 
work in order to celebrate her victory concerning her inheritance in a law suit which 
began when she was 15 and ended when she was in her fifties. 

The book features 77 black-and-white illustrations, the only colour plates serving 
as dust cover. The front cover depicts the young courtier, playwright and patron 
Thomas Killigrew with his brother-in-law, both in the state of mourning and melan- 
choly. This and other works are interpreted by Malcolm Rogers in a fine essay which 
provides valuable insight into the life of one of the most intriguing and controversial 
contemporaries of Van Dyck. 

ILSE E. FRffiSEN, Wilfrid Laurier University 

Camille Wells Slights. Shakespeare* s Comic Commonwealths. Toronto, Buf- 
falo and London: University of Toronto Press, 1993. Pp. viii, 290. 

The title of Slights' book suggests plurality of consideration, but the volume embarks 
upon a more singular exercise, exploring "how the ten comedies from The Comedy of 
Errors through Twelfth Night represent the problems and satisfactions of people living 
together in an ordered commonwealth" (p. 4). This notion of an unproblematically 
posited "commonwealth" undermines attempts throughout the book to engage and 
accommodate a variety of critical approaches and cultural interpretations. And yet 
Slights is clearly familiar with recent critical trends, as indicated by her full bibliog- 
raphy and variety of analytical gestures. She might have exchanged more fully with 
recent criticism or asserted more fully her own defining methodology. After all, it 
seems rather late in the day to be challenging the "traditional view" that Shakespeare's 
early comedies are simply romantic excursions into the experience of love. Having 
detected, however, a "relative neglect of the social dimensions of the comedies" (p. 4), 
Slights issues just such a challenge. She proposes to go beyond the "festive" comedy 
approach of C. L. Barber and the "green world" comedy approach of Northrop Frye 
— derived as they are. Slights claims, from psychological models — to examine the 
social nature of Shakespeare's early comedies. And yet most recent critical responses 
to Shakespearean comedy, including issue-oriented studies of gender, race, class, or 
history, anthropological rite or carnivalesque celebration, take some measure of the 
social dimensions involved. 

On the question of critical approach. Slights is content with suave irony: 'These 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 79 

post-structuralist times provide us with no consensus about the purpose of the critical 
endeavour or the nature of the literary text except, perhaps, that there are no stable, 
unmediated texts and no disinterested, non-ideological criticism" (p. 6). She explains 
her own methodology as follows: "I draw ideas and insights from formalists, new and 
old historicists, feminists, sociologists, historians, and cultural anthropologists, for I 
believe that erecting barriers between post-structuralist theory and humanist scholar- 
ship is counterproductive" (p. 6). Her refusal of barriers is admirable. But critics more 
rigidified or more self-conscious than Slights will see the book either as widely 
informed or loosely generalized in terms of organizational context. 

The book organizes two chapters apiece — each chapter deals with a specific play 
— under a broadly suggestive rubric: The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the 
Shrew appear under "Belonging"; The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love 's Labour's 
Lost explore "Cultural Values and the Values of Culture"; A Midsummer Night's 
Dream and The Merchant of Venice comprise Part Three, "Change and Continuity;" 
Part Four, "Court and Country," involves The Merry Wives of Windsor and Much Ado 
About Nothing; and Part Five details "Renewal and Reciprocity" in As You Like It and 
Twelfth Night. Six of the chapters appeared previously in respected literary journals, 
four of them with titles unchanged. The chapters themselves have been revised lightly 
in the interests of comparison, book-length consensus, and accommodation of recent 

Historicist, feminist, and other post-modern approaches are touched upon but de- 
emphasized in favour of old-style critical discussion, discussion that leads the reader 
sensibly through the plays in terms of language, action, character and theme. The 
readings presented are well-informed, conscious of contemporary culture, and often 
shrewd in their grasp of particular dramatic detail. Slights is a gifted writer and incisive 
reader. But her readings are strictly consensus readings of otherwise problematic 
comic dreams, dramas of comic distortion, discord, and moment-to-moment fracture, 
that often resist and reconfigure comfortable interpretations. Comic "conventions" are 
appealed to at key points where they might just as easily be questioned, and "happy 
endings" are consistently insisted upon. Plot and circumstance are often rehearsed, 
while problems of gender, class, and politics are touched upon but elided with a view 
to the reinforcement of optimistic liberal society and its consensus value, as in the 
following examples: "Kate's transformation from despised shrew to happily married 
woman suggests that civilisation depends on people with critical attitude towards it" 
(p. 50). "The Christians essentially force Shy lock to do what he ought to do voluntarily : 
provide for his daughter" (p. 146). "The narrative patterns of The Merry Wives draw 
heavily on the conventions of the pastoral tradition and dramatize its assumption that 
outside the pressures and rigidities of sophisticated society people can achieve 
harmony with their environment" (p. 168-9). 

Admittedly, three plucked passages do not a critique make, and there is much to 
admire in Slights' attempt to work with a loosely-conceived theory of social generosity 
and responsibility within these disparate plays. But after some 235 pages of discussion 

80 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

— the best of which is contained in the nature versus nurture argument of the chapter 
on As You Like It and the minor-key Bakhtinian response to Much Ado About Nothing 
— Slights draws to a close with decidedly mixed messages, stating: "While I agree that 
they grind no polemic axes, I have tried to demonstrate that the ten plays discussed in 
this book offer acute commentary on social situations and behaviour" (p. 236). They 
certainly do offer such commentary, but Slights asserts agreement too easily. Despite 
her scruple on the topic, polemic axes have been ground throughout. Slights even 
itemizes a few of them on the same page: "In the process of dramatizing the integration 
of marginal figures into an Italian city state. The Taming of the Shrew portrays 
contemporary English marriage customs, while Love's Labour's Lost examines the 
dynamics of courtly factionalism and the political implications of changing educa- 
tional patterns. Geographical and chronological distance allow The Merchant of 
Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It to explore such indigenous 
institutions as nascent capitalism, colonialism, and primogeniture'* (p. 236). I only 
wish Slights had ground her polemical axes more, had considered Shakespeare's 
comic commonwealths as political and problematic as well as social and ordered. 

Traditional in method, Shakespeare's Comic Commonwealths presents itself 
with a point to make about social consensus in the early comedies. To Slights, these 
plays represent imagined social communities finally triumphant over dissention 
through reasserted social homogeneousness. Not all will agree with such accommo- 
dation. The book itself is handsomely designed and printed, although the surname of 
the late A. Bartlett Giamatti is misprinted in the three places where it appears. Written 
in a lively style by a scholar who obviously loves her material and who brings 
intelligent but safe associations to bear upon her interpretations, Shakespeare 's Comic 
Commonwealths will be of informative benefit alike for graduate students and first- 
time readers of Shakespearean comedy. 

RICK BOWERS, University of Alberta 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 81 

J. M. De Bujanda, Ugo Rozzo, Peter G. Bietenholz, Paul F. Grendler et Claude 
Sutto. Index de Rome 1590, 1593, 1596, avec étude des Index de Parme 1580 
et de Munich 1582. Sherbrooke, Centre d'Études de la Renaissance, 1 994. Vol. 
IX, Pp. 1 172. 

Paul VI abolit l'Index en 1965. Trois ans plus tard, lors des événements de mai 1968 
à Paris, je relevai par hasard sur un mur de l'Odéon le graffiti suivant: "Il est interdit 
d'interdire," lequel est devenu depuis lors un banal proverbe en certains milieux. Notre 
époque n'est pas à un paradoxe près. Fait aussi digne de remarque, le premier Index 
fut celui de la Sorbonne ou de l'Université de Paris (1544), le deuxième, de 
l'Université de Louvain (1546), le troisième de l'Inquisition portugaise (1547), le 
quatrième de Venise (1549), le cinquième de l'Inquisition espagnole (1551), le 
sizième de Venise et Milan (1554) et le septième de Rome (1557). 

À vrai dire, de 1544 à la fin du seizième siècle, on compte 34 Index ainsi répartis: 
Parme (1), Munich (1), Venise (2 en 5 ans), Anvers (3 en 3 ans), Louvain (3 en 12 ans), 
Inquisition espagnole (5 en 33 ans), Rome (6 en 41 ans), Paris (6 en 12 ans). Inquisition 
portugaise (7 en 50 ans). Tous ont déjà été étudiés, sauf les Index de Parme (1580), de 
Munich (1582) et de Rome (1590, 1593, 1596), qui font l'objet du vol. IX de la série 
dont il est ici question. Un dizième volume de cette collection reste à paraître sous le 
titre de "Thesaurus de la littérature interdite au XVP siècle." Ainsi se terminera la série 
des Index du seizième siècle. 

Les cinq auteurs de ce volumineux compendium relié de 1 172 pages sont des 
spécialistes bien connus. Le préfacier fait plus que remercier, comme il convient, qui 
de droit dans les pages 1 1 - 14 (le comité de rédaction, les quatre assistants, entre autres). 
Il fait aussi le tour du sujet, parle de l'origine de la Congrégation de l'Index, tient 
l'Index de Parme (1580) pour le plus représentatif, regrette, raisons éditoriales 
obligent, d'avoir omis plus d'une donnée importante relative aux condamnations, 
voire de n' avoir pu consulter les Archives du Saint-Office et de 1 ' ancienne Congrégation 
de l'Index. Par bonheur, l'équipe eut accès à la riche documentation de la Bibliothèque 
du Vatican dont le préfet est un Canadien, le père Leonard E. Boyle. Le lecteur ferait 
bien de lire aussi (p. 15) les "Principes et Normes" qui suivent la préface. 

Il suffit de jeter un coup d'oeil sur la table des matières, détaillée et bien aérée, 
pour saisir d'emblée l'esprit méthodique qui a présidé à la composition de l'ouvrage. 
La présentation des trois Index de Parme, de Munich et de Rome, due respectivement 
à Ugo Rozzo, Peter G. Bietenholz, Paul F. Grendler et J. M. De Bujanda, comporte trois 
parties distinctes: introduction historique, étude du contenu, analyse des condamnations. 
Les notes abondantes sont renvoyées en bas de page, ce qui en facilite grandement la 
lecture. Le plus étoffé des Index est sans doute celui de Rome dont l'introduction 
historique (pp. 269-309) a pour auteur Paul F. Grendler, tandis que l'étude du contenu (pp. 
310-740) est l'oeuvre de J. M. De Bujanda. Tell est la matière des 740 premières pages. 

Suivent le "Texte des Index" (pp. 741-978), la "Table des auteurs et des ouvrages 
condamnés et expurgés" (pp. 779-1052), la "Table des imprimeurs et des libraires" par 
lieux d'activité (pp. 1053-1074), la bibliographie (pp. 1075-1112), l'index des 

82 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

bibliothèques citées (pp. 1115-1 120), l'index général des noms de personnes et des 
ouvrages condamnés comme anonymes (pp. 1121-1 172). Les 200 dernières pages ne 
manqueront pas d'intéresser tout particulièrement les bibliophiles, bibliothécaires, 
historiens des mentalités et religions, théologiens catholiques et protestants, philosophes 
et sociologues; ils ont beaucoup de pain sur la planche! 

Le lecteur moderne, avide d'explications et obsédé, non sans raison, par le respect 
des droits et de la liberté de la personne — la brutalité et l'esclavage sous toutes ses 
formes sont loin d' être disparus de la planète — aura tôt fait de constater, en parcourant 
ce volume, l' absence de discussion raisonnée des interdictions d' écrits dangereux pour 
la foi et les moeurs. Grégoire XIII justifie ainsi la censure: "ut Christi fidèles intelligant 
quos libros tute légère possint et a quibus abstinere debeant" (p. 261), sans préciser 
toutefois l'adverbe ''tute" sans danger. Mais pareille imprécision crevait alors les 
yeux. Nous sommes non pas au vingtième, mais au seizième siècle, qui est celui de la 
Réforme et de la Contre-Réforme, de la rivalité entre le pouvoir territorial des papes 
et celui des empereurs et des rois; l'Index possède alors une dimension européenne. 
Il interdisait, parmi beaucoup d'autres, les éléments suivants dans les textes imprimés: 
affirmations de caractère païen, propos contraires aux bonnes moeurs, épithètes 
élogieuses à l'égard de Luther, Calvin et alii, emplois d'expressions chères aux 
hérétiques, attaques contre les rites ecclésiastiques, etc. Le lecteur trouvera d'autres 
chefs d'interdiction dans réintroduction historique" et 1' "Étude du contenu." Il pourra se 
consoler ou se rassurer un tantinet en lisant la phrase suivante: "Après la promulgation de 
l'Index romain en 1 559 et de celui du Concile de Trente en 1564, mais surtout à partir de 
la création, en mars 1571, de la Congrégation de l'Index, les ordinaires et inquisiteurs 
diocésains ne peuvent, de fait plutôt que de droit, légiférer en la matière" (p. 22). 

Le droit de censure, une fois centralisé à Rome, avait chance d'être plus respecté, 
de créer une certaine uniformité dans les décrets ou de les rendre moins aléatoires, de 
lutter plus efficacement contre les erreurs de la Réforme et de mettre les catholiques 
en garde contre les réformateurs qui expurgeaient ou traduisaient à l'envi surtout le 
Nouveau Testament et certains textes des Pères de l'Église. Loin de se limiter à la 
défense de la foi et de veiller aux bonnes moeurs, l'Index se piquait, à l'aurore du 
classicisme, de purifier la littérature. Or, dans ce domaine, nécessité faisant loi, il n'y 
allait pas de main morte, par exemple, en remplaçant César, Cicéron, Horace, Pline le 
Jeune et Virgile par des auteurs aussi insignifiants et médiocre tels que Bembo, 
Prudentius, Sadolet et Sammazaro (p. 190). La Congrégation de l'Index prétendait 
purifier les ouvrages littéraires jusque-là publiés en langue vemaculaire (pp. 275-279) 
qui passaient pour corrompus ou corrupteurs. Par bonheur. Clément Vil (p. 285) 
réduisit radicalement la liste de pareils ouvrages dans l'Index de Rome ( 1 596). On doit 
reconnaître, cependant, que Rome, en agissant aussi fermement, répondait du tac au 
tac aux attaques de ses adversaires, les imprimeurs et les libraires d'Espagne et d' Italie, 
d'Angleterre et de France, d'Allemagne ou du Portugal, de Suisse et des Pays-Bas qui 
faisaient flèche de tout bois pour répandre leurs livres quand ils ne se livraient pas à 
des actes de piraterie, les droits d'auteurs étant alors inconnus. Venise alla même 
jusqu' àprésenter de fortes objections contre l'Index au gouvernement de laRépubUque. 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 83 

Et r on vint à un modus vivendi avec le Saint-Siège alors que les chrétiens, faisant front 
commun, avaient abouti à la victoire de Lépante sur les Turcs en 1571. 

Cet ouvrage, on 1 ' aura constaté par ce qui précède, ne manque ni d' intérêt historique, 
littéraire et sociologique, ni de haute valeur scientifique. Le lecteur ne manquera pas alors 
de remplir plusieurs feuillets de notes: de relever, par exemple, la *Table" on ne peut plus 
indispensable, des correspondances de l'Index de Parme (1580) avec les titres de Turin, 
de Naples et les Index de Rome ( 1 590 et 1 596); ou encore la présentation exemplaire des 
noms des auteurs et des titres des ouvrages condamnés, tous numérotés et en caractères 
gras, lareproduction remarquablement nette des Index provenant surtout de laBibliothèque 
du Vatican, puis de la Folger Shakespeare Library et de la Menno Simons Historical 
Library de Harrisburg en Pennsylvanie. 

Le volume IX fait donc honneur tout ensemble à l'équipe qui a pris l'initiative et 
assuré 1 ' entreprise au Centre d ' Études de la Renaissance de 1 ' Université de Sherbrooke 
et aux presses Métrolitho-Sherbrooke. Il n'aurait jamais pu paraître sans le double 
concours de l'Université de Sherbrooke et du Conseil de recherches en sciences 
humaines du Canada. 

MAURICE LEBEL, Université Laval 

Tina Krontiris. Oppositional Voices: Women as Writers and Translators of 
Literature in the English Renaissance. London and New York: Routledge, 
1992. Pp. X, 182. 

Charlotte F. Otten, ed. English Women* s Voices, 1540-1700. Miami: Florida 
International University Press, 1992. Pp. xvi, 421. 

Oppositional Voices explores the conditions of possibility for literary production by 
Englishwomen in the Renaissance and the strategies they employ to oppose dominant 
ideologies about gender. In a world inhospitable to women's writing and publication, 
what circumstances, Tina Krontiris asks, enabled a handful of women to succeed in 
producing secular literature? Krontiris reviews familiar barriers to women's accom- 
plishment: theories and cultural practices reinforcing male superiority and female 
subordination, constraining women's sexual behaviour and verbal expression, re- 
stricting their access to business or the public sphere. Nonetheless, she argues, 
ideological and cultural formations are never monolithic. In general terms, both 
religion and humanism encompassed contradictions which opened spaces of opportu- 
nity for women. The Reformation may have reinforced a woman's subordinate 
position in relation to a husband but it permitted her speech in devotion to God; 
humanist thought may have regarded women as inferior by nature, but it encouraged 
improvement through education. Particular circumstances, such as service in an 

84 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

aristocratic household, may have given middle-class writers like Isabella Whitney and 
Margaret Tyler access to books and learning. Aristocratic birth could both enable and 
constrain: on one hand, court life might have promoted the verbal skills of women like 
Mary Herbert and Mary Wroth through expectations of polite conversation; on the 
other hand, economic pressures on aristocratic marriage might mean marriage partners 
and future circumstances dictated by fathers and relatives. Suggestive as this book is, 
about what enabled literary production of six unusual women, the speculations are 
nonetheless limited by the few facts available or discussed. Who knows, for example, 
what life experiences other than the unelaborated fact of her ex-servant status might 
have encouraged Margaret Tyler to write? 

In reading their works, Krontiris focuses on the women writers' strategies for 
voicing feminist opposition to dominant ideologies. What the women writers criticize, for 
the most part, are oppressive norms in male-female relations. Krontiris finds both Tyler, 
in her translation of A Mirrour of Princely Doughtiest and Knighthood, and Elizabeth 
Chair, in her History of King Edward II, critical of the double standard that treats a 
woman's adultery more harshly than her partner's. Translating Antome, Mary Herbert is 
said to interrogate conventional ideas about women's role, by undermining her mature 
heroine's maternal identity and celebrating her sexual side. Mary Wroth interrogates 
patriarchal practices whereby women are victimized in relationships: her romance 
heroines in Urania find themselves forced into undesired marriages by tyrannical fathers 
or made to suffer intense unhappiness by inconstant lovers. Of the six writers Krontiris 
discusses, only Margaret Tyler is said to take the routs of direct critique: in her preface 
to A Mirrour, she anticipates objections against female authorship in general and her 
"man-like" choice of subject matter in particular, and she constructs counter-arguments. 

Interesting as this proto-feminism is, Krontiris' s decision to highlight the oppositional 
character of the writings sometimes makes for unconvincing arguments, especially when 
she explains their indirect strategies for ideological critique. For example, when she 
presents the writers' sympathetic depiction of female characters like Cleopatra, Mariam, 
Queen Isabel and Pamphilia as a key strategy for foregrounding their oppositional 
attitudes, one wonders if the sympathetic treatment of female characters like Shake- 
speare's Cleopatra, Webster's Duchess of Malfi, or Spenser's Britomart should also be 
read as exhibiting strongly "oppositional" tendencies. The book's argument gets confus- 
ing when the deployment of "conduct-book commonplaces on feminine virtues" (p. 35) 
or even of "contemporary dominant ideology" itself (p. 43) is paradoxically identified as 
an indirect writing strategy adopted by writers opposing dominant ideology. 

Isolating the motive of opposition from the outset turns out to be a little 
misleading, and the book's real accomplishment pulls against its title. What Krontiris 
brings most strongly into focus is what muted the opposition in the women writer's 
voices — how basic motives like gaining a hearing and social survival made for 
appropriation of conventional forms and accommodation to conventional attitudes. 
Krontiris does an excellent job of showing how strongly oriented these women were 
towards the anticipated reception of their writings and what a significant role expected 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 85 

response played in shaping what they produced. *To control response and pre-empt 
criticism," (p. 30) Isabella Whitney apologizes for her preoccupation with non- 
religious books and Mary Herbert for the "inferiority" of her part in translating the 
Psalms; Herbert limits and effaces her own artistic self-assertion through her patron- 
age of others; Elizabeth Chair offers sympathy for disadvantaged male characters to 
balance her sympathy for rebellious Mariam; and Mary Wroth endorses narrow ideas 
about respectable behaviour for women as she works out her critique of men's 
behaviour to women. Overall, the book illuminates the complex situations and 
contradictory motives of the women writers, and it provides a good basic introduction 
to literary women's achievement in ejirly modem England. 

The announced promise of English Women 's Voices is to uncover "the lives of 
women whose voices were buried for centuries under a heap of male writing" (p. xv): 
their voices will "pierce the consciousness of the twentieth-century reader, who will 
undoubtedly recognize affinities and shared concerns" (p. xiv). Many readers will 
bring a scepticism shaped by post-modem theory or simply by previous disappoint- 
ments to such claims about presenting the actuality of women' s lives or the immediacy 
of women's voices. But Otten's anthology of non-literary writings, organized by 
themes relevant to early modem women's lives, does not disappoint. In the first 
gatherings, one hears the voices of women in extreme situations — suffering sexual 
and psychological abuse, enduring prison for strongly held and boldly stated religious 
convictions, or petitioning, often in the face of male ridicule of their efforts, for peace 
or religious purity or economic stability. Even silenced voices find expression. When 
Dr. John Lamb rapes eleven-year-old Joan Seager and infects her with venereal 
disease, leaving her mother Elizabeth "not able to tell me... she could say no more, her 
grief was so great," (p. 30) we hear their neighbour Mabel Swinnerton, raising her 
voice to confront the man with his outrage and to testify against him. The vivid detail 
in her testimony captures not only the burdensome theft of language from the victims 
but also the trifling evasion of the confronted rapist's answer: "he railed upon my Lord 
of Windsor grievously, with many base words, and said, he did more good deeds in a 
week, than my Lord of Windsor did in a year" (p. 31). Indeed, the interplay of voices 
within these accounts is often striking: in Anna Trapnel's account of her Bridewell 
imprisonment, for example, she converses as familiarly with the Lord as she does with 
the courteous prison matron. Trapnel's and other forceful voices of women preaching 
and prophesying support Otten's and Krontiris' s shared view that religious conviction 
could overrule prohibitions against women's self-assertive discourse. 

Otten's selections on health scare, on love and marriage, and on childbirth and 
sickness offer access to the daily lives of women: to Lady Margaret Hoby's routines 
in caring for the hurt and injured in her community; to Mary Boyle Rich's meditations 
in overcoming her "aversion to marriage" (p. 160) and choosing, in despite of her kind 
father's concerns, to marry a "younger brother;" to Alice Thornton's history of her 
pregnancies, which, Otten suggests, constructs "a distinctly female identity" by its 
intertwining of "the clinical with the biblical" (p. 225). 

86 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Otten's anthology brings together a remarkable range of women's writing. It offers 
insight into women's differences deriving from class, religious outlook, and life choices 
as well as into their common concerns. With littie duplication of materials easily available 
elsewhere, with selections long enough and sufficiently contextualized to make for 
meaningftil engagement, this volume is invaluable to teachers and researchers. 

A. LYNNE MAGNUSSON, University of Waterloo 

La bibliothèque de Du Bartas, études par James Dauphiné, index par Marie- 
Luce Demonet et Gilles Proust. Paris, Champion, 1994. 

Publié r année où La Sepmaine figurait au progranmie de 1 ' agrégation, La bibliothèque 
de Du Bartas n'est pourtant pas un livre de circonstances. C'est plutôt la synthèse des 
nombreuses études sur le "docte gascon" qui ont vu le jour depuis une dizaine d' années 
(les travaux de James Dauphiné lui-même, d'Yvonne Bellenger, de Jan Miemowski, 
ou encore les deux colloques de 1988 et de 1990) ou antérieures (par exemple, les 
recherches de Marcel Raymond). 

L'ouvrage se compose de deux parties inégales: la première comporte six études 
de James Dauphiné, la deuxième, plus importante en nombre de pages, trois index et 
une liste des mots à la rime. 

Dans le chapitre I, "De la situation," James Dauphiné commence par situer La 
Sepmaine par rapport aux Hymnes de Ronsard et au Microcosme de Scève: elle entend 
enseigner en rejetant la fable, en recourant à la compilation et se recommande surtout 
par le topos du livre du monde. Puis l'auteur met en avant le caractère épique de 
l'oeuvre qui, magnifiant Dieu, ne saurait se réduire à ses seuls aspects encyclopédiques 
et scientifiques. D'où une revalorisation de la description. Deux points sont encore 
abordés. D' abord, le succès de La Sepmaine dont la réception est analysée à la lumière 
des commentaires de S. Goulart et P. Thé venin. Ensuite, la reprise du thème rassurant 
de Vharmonia mundi: le "livre-bibliothèque" contient le livre de la nature et "la 
bibliothèque des livres divins" (p. 31). 

Le chapitre II, "De la rhétorique," utilise le Brief Advertissement de Du Bartas 
pour réfuter le jugement négatif de Du Perron. Ainsi, Vinventio, certes tributaire de la 
Genèse et de la tradition hexamérale, se caractérise par le choix du sens littéral et par 
la digression dans le commentaire. Si la dispositio ne semble procéder selon "aucune 
règle établie," il en allait déjà ainsi dans les hexamera. Dans ses réflexions et ses 
digressions, "la célébration de la Parole s'accompagne du culte de la beauté" (p. 18). 
Quant à Velocutio, très vivement attaquée, elle vise la clarté et la correction, malgré 
les exemples "beis" et la répétition de clichés apologétiques. Ainsi Du Bartas tente de 
réconcilier beauté du Logos et encyclopédie. Contrairement aux penseurs médiévaux, 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 87 

il a recours à un allégorisme minimal qui, toutefois, donne à T oeuvre sa cohérence. La 
Sepmaine entend restituer le livre du monde: les "correspondances" sont nombreuses 
et, par la contemplation des beautés de l'univers, on est conduit à Dieu. Ce sont donc 
le sens littéral et la description qui sont privilégiés. Enfin, le sujet chrétien entraîne 
"une marche vers le sublime" (p. 23) dans la mesure où tout s'organise en fonction du 
divin. Bref, s'il ne la définit pas. Du Bartas illustre une "rhétorique chrétienne." 

Le chapitre suivant, "De l' esthétique," pose le problème du baroque, du maniérisme, 
du néo-classicisme ou du néo-académisme de La Sepmaine. Baroque, le poème le 
serait pas la dynamique que lui donne le dénombrement. En fait, 1' enumeration est 
d'abord une preuve théologique, comme elle l'était déjà chez Thomas d' Aquin. Quant 
aux métaphores, elles se trouvent au centre de la stratégie bartasienne qui ambitionne, 
dans un récit et non plus dans un commentaire, de traduire de façon plausible les 
premiers instants de l'univers. Elles ne relèvent donc pas du baroque. La singularité 
de La Sepmaine réside dans la transposition sur le plan divin du labeur du poète 
assimilé à celui de l'architecte. James Dauphiné conclut sur ce point en écrivant que 
"s'il y a un baroque bartasien il est toujours récupéré par un mode de discours de type 
ontologique" (p. 35). Pour juger du maniérisme de l'oeuvre, l'auteur reprend les 
analyses de Marcel Raymond: il résulterait du décalage entre les principes (de 
composition littéraire, de finalité théologique) et le foisonnement d'images "donnant 
à cette même oeuvre une cohérence d'une autre nature" (p. 37). En particulier, La 
Sepmaine propose une "constante transgression" qui met en cause les règles qui la 
fondent. D'autre part, l'oeuvre comporte bon nombre de renvois intérieurs, 
d'interventions du poète-peintre, autre Dieu, qui s'intéresse aux significations. Chez 
Du Bartas, le maniérisme viserait à mettre en relief les effets de la parole de Dieu. 

Quand, en écrivain classique, il justifie sa démarche. Du Bartas fait implicitement 
référence à Quintilien, à Cicéron, à la Pléiade et il souligne ainsi l'unité de son poème. 
Pour James Dauphiné, les preuves de son néo-classicisme, voire de son néo-académisme, 
sont à chercher dans le traitement neuf qu'il fait subir aux images prises aux hexamera 
et dans l' intégration d' un vocabulaire pourtant inhabituel à "la peau commune" (p. 43), 
ou encore des histoires mythologiques à l'économie de l'argumentation. 

Dans le chapitre IV, "De l'érudition," l'association culture-littérature au seizième 
siècle est d'abord rappelée: "la connaissance, ... au même titre que la poésie, favorise 
l'accès à l'intelligible beauté" (p. 47). Pour Du Bartas, l'érudition scientifique qui 
constitue les fondations du "palais" de La Sepmaine, permet de remonter le temps et 
de se rapprocher ainsi de Dieu. Toutefois, plus qu'un érudit. Du Bartas est un 
vulgarisateur de génie qui rend compte de la tradition médiévale et de (médiocres) 
textes contemporains hostiles à Copernic. La Sepmaine est donc un livre-bibliothèque 
que Goulart complétera de ses remarques. Mais toujours "l'encyclopédie et l'érudition 
sont comprises, embrassées par la théologie" (p. 54). Les connaissances viennent 
confirmer les vérités de la Genèse et la dignitas hominis. 

"De la religion" (le chapitre V) montre que Du Bartas n'est pas un métaphysicien 
et qu'il préfère contempler les merveilles de la nature en conservant la structure et les 

88 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

thèmes de la Genèse. Ce spectacle des beautés de l'univers aboutit à "une connaissance 
de l'invisible" (p. 59) et à une célébration du Très-Haut. Telle est la singularité d'un 
auteur qui, dans l'ensemble, se refuse à "esplucher" mystères et dogmes, ce que 
montrent clairement l' angélologie ou le traitement du repos divin au septième jour. Ne 
sont retenues que les formulations assez neutres pour être acceptées par un vaste 
public. Ce choix de la théologie naturelle entraîne une utilisation importante de la 
description et du catalogue pour prouver, mieux qu'avec la raison, la puissance de 
Dieu. Mais un risque existe: celui de voir ce "texte-miroir" qu'est La Sepmaine tendre 
vers une lecture panthéiste de l'univers. 

Le dernier chapitre, "De la bibliothèque," s'attache évidemment au topos du livre 
du monde que le poète interprète au sens littéral. Les nombreux exemples "sont autant 
de lettres ou de mots de ce que serait l'écriture divine" (p. 68). Du Bartas nomme, 
"presque à la manière de Dieu," le monde que le verbe divin a fait naître. Mais la 
réception de La Sepmaine indique qu'en son temps le sens théologique passe parfois 
au second plan et que l'on retient surtout son aspect encyclopédique. En fait, La 
Sepmaine est un "détour" vers la théologie. Car le poème revient à la Genèse, instaure 
un "ordre qui [lui] donne les signes d'une sacralisation" (p. 71). Du Bartas considère 
que le livre est le monde et La Sepmaine une bibliothèque: tous deux ont des plans 
similaires. Du Bartas part du concret (le livre) pour arriver "à un modèle théorique et 
théologique, expression de toute parole non-entendue: le livre du monde" (p. 72). Le 
poète dit ce que Dieu tait, il organise et ordonne la variété de la création. La 
combinatoire des sept jours est proche de celle qu'utilisait, à partir de l'alphabet, 
Raban Maur dans son Aile goriae in universam sacram scripturam. L' histoire intérieure 
de La Sepmaine témoigne du passage du mythe biblique du livre à l'organisation de 
la bibliothèque idéale: c'est là sa modernité. 

Synthétique est l'adjectif qui s'impose à la lecture de ce recueil d'études. C'est 
là leur qualité essentielle: le lecteur saisit la spécificité de la poésie bartasienne. On 
peut regretter parfois la rapidité de certaines démonstrations ou le nombre restreint de 
citations. Mais en 70 pages, il n'était guère possible d'être plus explicite. Il suffira de 
se reporter aux études détaillées que James Dauphiné cite en notes (en particulier les 
siennes) pour trouver des développements plus nourris. Ces notes renvoient également 
à des auteurs contemporains de Du Bartas, comme Louis Parent ou Guillaume 
Guéroult. Cette remarquable connaissance d'oeuvres que la postérité n'a guère 
retenues permet à James Dauphiné de dégager l'originalité de La Sepmaine. 

Les trois Index émanent du laboratoire EQUIL XVI de Clermont-Ferrand. Ils 
pourront être utiles aux chercheurs, mais on peut regretter qu'ils se limitent aux trois 
journées (I, IV et Vil) qui figuraient au programme de l'agrégation. Le bref "index 
hiérarchique" offre la liste des mots les plus fréquents, classés par fréquence décroissante. 
Les plus intéressants (par exemple, corps, ciel, terre) sont détaillés dans le copieux 
"index général" (de à jusque Zodiaque). L"'index onomastique" classe les noms 
propres par ordre alphabétique, de Achab à Zeuxe. 

JEAN-CLAUDE TERNAUX, Université de Reims 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 89 

Daniel Javitch. Proclaiming a Classic: The Canonization of Orlando Furioso. 
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991. Pp. x, 205. 

In this excellent study Daniel Javitch aims to investigate how the Orlando Furioso 
"first entered the European poetic canon" (p. 3). The author claims that canonicity "is 
a cultural production rather than something that literary works innately possess" (p. 3); 
he, therefore, is not interested in ascertaining which intrinsic aspects of the poem 
"facilitated" or "invited some of the processes of canonization" (p. 4) which can be 
detected through the several early commentaries and critical responses. His concern 
lies mainly "with the reception and the perception of the poem in the sixteenth 
century," and the efforts made by scholars of the time "to establish that the Furioso 
either descended from or was the modern equivalent of the canonical epics of 
antiquity" (p. 4). 

In the first chapter the author examines the vast success of the poem among 
sixteenth-century audiences. Such success is confirmed by various factors; first, it had 
a very large number of editions, which "between 1521 and 1584 . . . embodied virtually 
every one of the particular typographical physiognomies that Venetian publishers had 
devised for the different kinds of readers who made up their market" (pp. 13-14). 
Second, the Furioso was present in libraries such as those of Florentine merchants, 
where chivalric literature was most certainly not very popular. Finally it was used as 
a textbook in school curricula. Javitch relates this success to two major factors: on one 
hand, the Furioso "was perceived to best fill the need for a modern equivalent of the 
canonical epics of antiquity at a time when such a need was felt with particular 
intensity" (pp. 14-15). On the other hand, it solicited a large response among the 
learned and the scholars. According to Javitch, "one needed only consider the relative 
absence of discussion concerning the Innamorato [that is, the work by Boiardo which 
Ariosto was continuing, whose fortune quickly declined toward the middle of the 
century] ... to realize how much the ongoing popularity and reputation of the Furioso 
had to do with the critical attention it was given" (p. 19). 

Some objections could be raised concerning these points. As for the first, it is clear 
that the need for a specific literary work was often felt at various times and in different 
cultural environments. Nevertheless, such a work was not invented or created when it 
did not exist. To remain within the boundaries of the Italian literary tradition, one can 
think of the need for a great tragedy and a great playwright which was felt from the end 
of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth; notwithstanding the large number 
of authors who produced tragedies in those times, none of them enjoyed a substantial 
popularity and a unique reputation until a great poet such as Vittorio Alfieri started 
writing in the last decades of the 1800s. 

As for the second, it is unlikely that the "critical attention" given to the Furioso 
conditioned the tastes and choices of middle class and courtly readers. Florentine 
merchants would hardly have been interested in the poem just because there was so 
much discussion about it among the learned. At the same time, some efforts to canonize 

90 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

in a similar way the Morgante by Luigi Pulci or the Innamorato were made, but were 
not successful. Consequently, it seems clear that the success of a specific work at a 
given time has to do mostly with the intrinsic aspects of the work, not with external 
factors. Again, one may think of the success of other works at different times (such as 
the Gerusalemme Liberata by Tasso or the Adone by Marino) to realize that success 
is conditioned by characteristics of the work itself. Also, as happened with the poem 
by Marino, such success does not necessarily last forever. The writings of Ariosto are 
a case in point. In conclusion, when sixteenth-century culture canonized the Furioso 
rather than other poems (such as the Italia liberata dai Goti by Trissino, which could 
much more easily be assimilated to the canonical epics of antiquity), it did so because 
the work was very successful among all kinds of readers; the Furioso did not, on the 
contrary, become popular because that culture had canonized it. 

Such objections do not limit in any way the value of the main body of Javitch's 
research, which is an accurate and thorough analysis of sixteenth-century learned 
commentaries on the Furioso. The reader has the opportunity to peruse the critical 
responses the poem elicited from both its supporters and opponents. Javitch must be 
credited also for signalling changes in attitude toward the poem because of external 
factors which interfered on various occasions with the reactions of its cultured 
audience; namely, the diffusion of Aristotle's Poetics, the publication of Tasso's 
Liberata, the issue of the relations between ancient classical literatures and modem 
Italian poetry, and so on. As a final result, contemporary Ariosto scholars can find in 
this penetrating research a complete and informative survey of sixteenth-century 
criticism on the Furioso and the ways in which that criticism influenced the history of 
the poem's editions after Ariosto published its final version in 1532. 

Among the many facts brought to light by the author, one should mention at least 
the chapter on John Harington's English translation of the poem, published in 1591 
preceded by a "Briefe Apologie." At first glance, the presence of such a chapter may 
seem rather odd in a book which deals with Italian sixteenth-century criticism on the 
Furioso. On the contrary, it is very much to the point: Javitch shows the extent to which 
the English translator was conditioned by that criticism. Not only did he make the 
obvious effort to present the poem as a modem cleissic in his introductory remarks and 
commentaries, but he also felt obliged to modify the original in his translation 
whenever he thought that Ariosto' s lines and images would be inadequate in relation 
to the ideal he was trying to offer his readers. 

Contemporary Ariosto studies will profit highly from Javitch' s book. Any future 
research on the reception of the Furioso in the Cinquecento will be indebted to this 
work, which will stand as a model for any similar survey of other masterpieces of 
Westem civilization. 

ANTONIO FRANCESCHETTI, University of Toronto 


Spanish and Hispanic-American Arcliival Sciences 

The Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies announces its Summer Institute 
in the Spanish and Hispanic- American Archival Sciences, from June 24 to August 2, 
1996. The institute will provide training in the reading of manuscripts from the 
hispanic tradition. The course will be conducted in Spanish by Prof. Consuelo Varela. 
For more information, please contact the Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry 
Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610-3380, USA. 

Visiting Humanities Fellowships 

Applications are invited for Visiting Humanities Fellowships, tenable at the Univer- 
sity of Windsor (Canada) in the 1996-1997 academic year. Scholars with research 
projects in traditional humanities disciplines or in theoretical, historical or philosophi- 
cal aspects of the sciences, social sciences, and arts, are invited to apply. Please write 
to Prof. Jacqueline Murray, Humanities Research Group, University of Windsor, 401 
Sunset Avenue, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4. 

Société Canadienne d'Études de la Renaissance 

Le prochain congrès annuel de la Société Canadienne d'Études de la Renaissance aura 
lieu du 26 au 28 mai 1996 à l'Université Brock, St. Catharines (Ontario). Parmi les 
sujets traités, il faut noter: l'oeuvre de Clément Marot; l'analyse des humeurs et du 
discours médico-littéraire; Thomas d' Aquin et la Renaissance; Descartes et la Renais- 
sance; Spenser et les liaisons continentales; représentations iconographiques de la 
France. Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez écrire à Elizabeth Sauer, 
Department of English, Brock University, St. Catharines (Ontario) L2S 3A1. 

92 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies 

The Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies will hold its next conference from May 
26 to 28, 1996 at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario. There will be sessions on 
several topics: Clément Marot; The humours and the medico-literary discourse; 
Thomas Aquinas and the Renaissance; Descartes and the Renaissance; Spenser and 
continental connections; Iconographie representations of France. For more informa- 
tion on the conference, please contact Prof. Elizabeth Sauer, Department of English, 
Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1. 

La femme lettrée à la Renaissance 

Un colloque intemationnal portera en mars 1996 sur le thème de la femme lettrée à la 
Renaissance. Il se tiendra à l'Institut interuniversitaire pour l'étude de la Renaissance 
à Bruxelles. Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez écrire au Prof. Michel 
Bastiaesen, Institut interuniversitaire pour l'étude de la Renaissance, Université Libre 
de Bruxelles, Boulevard de la Plaine, 2, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgique. 

Critical Approaches to English Prose Fiction 

The Barnabe Riche Society sponsors an international conference on the subject of 
comparative critical approaches to English prose fiction (1520-1640). The conference 
will be held May 9-11, 1997 at Carleton University, Ottawa. For information on the 
conference, please write to Prof. Douglas Wurtele, Department of English, Carleton 
University, Ottawa, Ontario KIS 5B6. 

Le Beau au temps de la Renaissance 

La revue Carrefour vient de publier un numéro spécial sur les catégories du Beau à 
l'époque de la Renaissance. Ce numéro spécial est dirigé par le prof. Donald Beecher. 
La revue Carrefour est disponible à l'adresse suivante: Département de Philosophie, 
Université d'Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario KIN 6N5. 

Renaissance Group of Waterloo-Guelph 

Prof. Marianne Micros is now the coordinator of the Waterloo-Guelph Renaissance 
Group. The Group organizes lectures and other events in the South Central Ontario 
area. For more information, please contact Prof. Marianne Micros, Department of 
English, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1. E-mail: 
mmicros @ 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 93 

The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition 

*The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition: Alterations, Adaptations, Alternatives" is 
the theme of the Eleventh Biennial Conference of the International Society for the 
History of Rhetoric, to be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 22-26, 1997. For 
information, please write to Prof. Judith Rice Henderson, Department of English, 9 
Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saslatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A5. E- 

Recent Books 
Livres récents 

Reid Barbour. Deciphering Elizabethan Fiction. Newark: Delaware University Press, 

Robert D. Cottrell, La grammaire du silence: Une lecture de la poésie de Marguerite 
de Navarre. Paris, Honoré Champion, 1995. 

Diane Desrosiers-Bonin. Rabelais et l'humanisme civil. Genève, Droz, 1992. 

Richard L. Harris, éd. A Chorus of Grammars. The Correspondence ofgeorge Hickes 
and his Collaborators on the "Thesaurus linguarum septentrionalium" . Toronto: 
Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1992. 

Jonathan Haynes. The Social Relations in Jonson's Theater. Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1992. 

Maynard Mack. Everybody's Shakespeare. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 

Daniel Martin, ed. Montaigne and the gods: The Mythological Key to the "Essays". 
Amherst, MA: Hestia Press, 1993. 

Walter D. Mignolo. The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality & 
Colonization. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 

David Lee Miller & Alexander Dunlop, eds. Approaches to Teaching Spenser 's Faerie 
Queene. New York: Modem Language Association, 1994. 

Richard Mulcaster. Positions Concerning the Training Up of Children, ed. William 
Barker. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994. 

96 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Robert M. Schuler. Francis Bacon and Scientific Poetry. Philadelphia: American 
Philosophical Society, 1992. 

Valerie Traub. Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean 
Drama. New York: Routledge, 1993. 

Paul W. White. Reformation Biblical Drama in England New York and Lx)ndon: 
Garland, 1992. 

Linda Woodbridge. The Scythe of Saturn: Shakespeare and Magical Thinking. Urbana 
and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994. 

Margarita Zamora. Reading Columbus. Berkeley: University of California Press, 

Adrianus Hofferus (1589-1644): Drie Opstellen over Hofferus' ambtelijke loopbaan, 
godsdienstige positie en literaire betekenis. Amsterdam: Stichting Neeriandistiek 
Vrij Universiteit & Stichting der Nadere Reformatie, 1993. 

Belgica Typographica, 1541-1660. Nieuwkoop, De Graaf, 1994. 

La problématiquue du sujet chez Montaigne, sous la dir. d'Eva Kushner. Paris, Honoré 
Champion, 1995. 

Scheming Papists and Lutheran Fools: Five Reformation Satires, ed. Erika Rummel. 
New York: Fordham University Press, 1993. 

The editor welcomes submissions on any aspect of the Renaissance and the Reformation 
period. Manuscripts in duplicate should be sent to the editorial office: 

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Spring / printemps 1 995 (date of issue: March 1 996) 

Canadian Publication Sales Agreement No. 0590762 ISSN 0034-429X 

New Series, Vol. XIX, No. 2 Nouvelle Série, Vol. XIX, No 2 

Old Series, Vol. XXXI, No. 2 1 995 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXXI, No 2 





Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous in Sixteenth-Century 

Huguenot Thought 

by Moshe Sluhovsky 


The Development of Hispanitas in Spanish Sixteenth-Century Versions of 

the Fall of Numancia 

by Rachel Schmidt 


Silvestro de Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair 

by Michael Tavuzzi 


To Warn Proud Cities": A Topical Reference in Milton's "Airy Knights" 

Simile {Paradise Lost 2533-8) 

by John Leonard 



A. C. Fiorato. La cité heureuse: V utopie de la Renaissance à l'âge baroque 

recensé par Claude-Gilbert Dubois 


Christopher Hodgkins. Authority, Church and Society in George Herbert 

reviewed by Mary Arshagouni Papazian 


Cynthia Skenazi. Maurice Scève et la pensée chrétienne; A Scève Celebra- 
tion: Délie 1544-1994, sous la dir. de Jerry Nash 
recensé par François Rouget 

Alistair Hamilton. Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The 
Alumbrados; Henry Kramen. The Phoenix and the Flame: Catalonia and 

the Counter Reformation 

reviewed by Robert R. Ellis 


Logique et littérature à la Renaissance, sous la dir. de Marie-Luce 

Demonet-Launay et André Toumon 
recensé par Jean-Claude Margolin 


Alexander Dalzell. The Collected Work of Erasmus 

reviewed by Hilmar Pabel 


Allen G. Debus. The French Paracelsians: The Chemical Challenge to 
Medical and Scientific Tradition in Early Modem France 

reviewed by Eva Kushner 

David R. Carlson. English Humanist Books: Writers and Patrons, Manu- 
scripts and Prints, 1475-1525; Mary Thomas Crane. Framing Authority: 
Sayings, Self and Society in Sixteenth-Century England 
reviewed by Samuel Glen Wong 







S'il y a une image qui semble traverser 
une bonne part de ce numéro de Renais- 
sance et Réforme, c'est celle du miracle. 
Bien sûr, on nous dira tout de suite que la 
publication même de notre revue, par ces 
temps difficiles, tient à elle seule du mira- 
cle ! Mais il s ' agit plutôt de la permanence 
du miraculeux à travers presque tous les 
écrits de l'Europe ancienne. Dans un ar- 
ticle sur les premiers textes calvinistes en 
France, par exemple, Moshe Sluhovsky 
démontre combien la notion de miracle 
n'a jamais pu quitter le discours des 
réformateurs, tant elle faisait partie à la 
fois de leur rhétorique et de leurs 
croyances. D' un autre côté, John Leonard 
analyse un bref passage de Milton, 
s' attardant à la métaphore des armées 
célestes dont on dit encore au début du 
dix-septième siècle qu'elles peuvent être 
observées par temps clair, haut dans le 
ciel. Dans tout cela, ce sont des 
mécanismes de réappropriation qui sont 
à l'oeuvre, comme dans les textes 
espagnols que nous propose Rachel 
Schmidt et les échanges acerbes entre 
ecclésiastiques italiens qu'analyse 
Michael Tavuzzi. Ce numéro de Renais- 
sance et Réforme s'attache à poursuivre 
les marques de la curieuse persistence du 
passé dans l'interprétation de l'Histoire. 

The concept of the miraculous is prob- 
ably the most important site in this issue 
of Renaissance and Reformation. Of 
course, it strikes us that the very survival 
of this journal in our difficult times is 
somewhat miraculous in itself! Here, 
however, we are concerned by the perma- 
nence of the concept of miracle through- 
out early modern European texts. In his 
article on early Calvinist literature in 
France, Moshe Sluhovsky demonstrates 
how the concept of miracle remains a 
familiar topos in Huguenot thinking, even 
in Calvin's writings. John Leonard gives 
a sharp look at a very brief passage in 
Milton's Para^we Lost, in order to study 
the image of celestial armies. Many were 
those in the seventeenth century who had 
observed such airy armies at night in the 
bright sky. Yet, underlying the discourse 
of this period we can see that mechanisms 
of appropriation and transformation are 
at work; for instance, in the succession of 
Spanish texts examined by Rachel 
Schmidt, or in the acrimonious pamphlets 
of Italian ecclesiastics studied by Michael 
Tavuzzi. In this issue of the journal we 
are searching for signs of the persistence 
of the past in our constant reinterpreta- 
tion of history. 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 2 (1995) /3 

Calvinist Miracles and the 
Concept of the Miraculous in 
Sixteenth-Century Huguenot 



Summary: This paper is a study of French Calvinism as a language. It was 
a language which employed the signifiers and the signs of the traditional 
Christian culture. There was persistent usages of key Catholic words in the 
theology of early Huguenot believers, regardless of their level of education or 
commitment to the cause. In an attempt to follow one such word ( ''miracle ": 
miracula or mirabilia), a large number of texts are examined, including 
Calvin 's own writings, the Histoire ecclésiastique, Simon Goulart ' s Mémoires 
de V estât de France sous Charles Neufîesme, and the personal diary of an 
anonymous believer in the provincial town of Millau. 

Sixteenth-century Calvinism was shaped through controversy and confron 
tation, persecutions and sacrifices. Conversion to the new belief system 
meant sanctification, namely being turned around by God's grace and making 
a total commitment to one's new life. Acceptance of Calvin's teaching 
involved a rejection of established religions and social norms and behaviours, 
such as the veneration of saints, the adaptation of a new mode of everyday 
conduct, and adherence to new ceremonial and ritualistic religious practices. 
Calvinism, in other words, was more than what Jean Calvin wrote. For the 
followers of the Genevan theologian, far from being merely a theological 
interpretation of Scripture, Calvinism meant a way of life, a moral system, and 
a distinct culture. To be sure, Calvinism was never a monolithic cultural 
system. Dutch, Scottish, German and French followers developed different 
interpretations of Calvin's theology and distinct Calvinist traditions (and the 
discussion that follows deals only with the French variance). Yet, all shared a 

Renaissance and Reforniation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 2 (1995) /5 

6 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

core of religious ideas — including a common rejection of late medieval 
Catholicism and a new scriptural interpretation of the Bible, based on Calvin's 

From the definition of French Calvinism as a cultural system follows also 
a definition of French Calvinism as a language.^ It was a language which 
employed the signifiers and signs of the traditional language: its characters 
were Latin, its vocabulary both French and Latin. But during the religious 
conflicts of the second half of the sixteenth century, the ancient characters and 
words were deployed in a new setting, within a polemic context, to combat 
another language (and culture) which used the same signs and vocabulary. 
Furthermore, the entire Calvinist enterprise was grounded on careful rereadings 
of sanctified texts, and on "purification" of these texts from alleged misinter- 
pretations. Indeed, Calvin and his followers were fully cognizant of their uses 
of words whose meanings had been obscured by Catholic misreadings, and of 
their need to redefine the exact relations between signifiers and signifieds. 
Hence, the fact that both linguistic systems — "the Calvinist idiom" and "the 
Catholic idiom" — used the same characters, presented Calvin and his 
followers in France and Geneva with a unique challenge. Their new language 
was constructed through the adaptation of the signifiers of a rival culture and 
system of belief to represent new signifieds.^ But first generation French 
Calvinists, the people who both invented and used the new language, had been 
brought up on the old faith and language. They themselves inhabited the world 
of the Catholic language, and shared its discursive system and its prescribed 
uses of signifiers. Consequently, Huguenots had to adjust themselves to the 
new meanings which were attributed in their new language to the old words. 
This challenge was shared by all partisans of the new culture, theologians as 
well as peasants, intellectuals as well as ordinary people. 

In this paper I argue that there were persistent usages of key Catholic 
words in the theology and cosmology of the early Huguenot believers regard- 
less of their level of education or commitment to the cause. As we shall see, 
prior cultural and linguistic traditions unavoidably influenced Huguenots* 
sensibilities and the ways they interpreted their world. While Calvinist 
theology did, indeed, present a linguistic anti-system to the Catholic system, 
the rupture from traditional usage of words was more difficult than has usually 
been assumed by historians of Calvinism. The continuity of linguistic usages 
indicates a continuity of epistemological perceptions. 

One of the major theological and linguistic differences between the old 
and the new languages was the use of the words "m/racw/a" (miracle) and 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 7 

''mirabilia'' (marvel). According to common knowledge, Protestant theology 
dismissed the reliability of post-Biblical miracles and argued the cessation of 
miracles by the time of the apostles. Comparing Catholic priests to Egyptian 
magicians, Calvin himself attributed all contemporary miracles to "sheer 
delusions of Satan.""* Calvinists were especially hostile to the Catholic belief 
in the power of miracle workers (known previously, in the Catholic system, as 
saints) to perform miracles, and considered it idolatrous of living people to 
believe that prayers should be directed to anyone but Christ. They vehemently 
attacked Catholic prognosticators and divines, whose blood was fair game, 
"punissable par tout droit divin et humain."^ Astrologers they regarded as 
sorcerers, and their art as a diabolic superstition.^ This hostility to "supersti- 
tion" implied a new theology of the natural order, which did not deny God's 
unique position above the natural order, but nevertheless categorically rejected 
astrology, prognostication, and other means of divination. This natural theol- 
ogy argued that God dictated an order in the universe, an order that is complete 
and does not leave space for unorderly occurrences. But creation continues to 
be subjected to God's care, which sometimes necessitate direct interventions 
by God. Thus, for example, the fact that the water of the seas gathered together 
and created a dwelling place for human kind, or the fact that the sea does not 
flood the earth, are "illustrious miracle" and "beyond nature," and prove God' s 
power over nature as well as his providence.^ While events in the world may 
appear to us fortuitous, they, in fact, take place within and according to God's 

Following Calvin's theological writings, recent historiography has ar- 
gued that the Calvinists regarded nature as a divine plan, which cannot and 
should not be changed through human interventions. When historical evidence 
has shown the persistence of pre-Reformation so-called "superstitious" beliefs 
and practices among Calvinists, its existence was explained as representing the 
gap between "learned" and "popular" Calvinisms. The Calvinisation of the 
common believer was a slow process, it has been argued, but the Calvinist 
authorities succeeded at the end of the process to eradicate the reliance on, and 
belief in, the supernatural.^ Fierce opposition to miracles notwithstanding, the 
word "miracle" appears time and time again in Calvinist writings, starting with 
Calvin himself. Its use by first-generation Reformers has not received much 
attention from either Calvinist theologians or historians of Calvinist religios- 
ity. Bernard Vogler summarized sixteenth-century Protestants' attitude to 
contemporary miracles as a "categorical rejection." D.P. Walker, however, 
presented a more nuanced view, and showed the difficulties Protestants 

8 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

encountered in articulating their doctrine of the cessation of miracles.'^ The 
following reading of first generation Huguenots' discussions of miracles 
follows the latter. The rejection of contemporary miracles in theological 
writings was tempered by a spiritual need to encounter divine signs which 
would demonstrate the realization of God's plan for the universe and the role 
of the Calvinist doctrine within this program. While Calvin himself was careful 
to delineate the difference between his concept of the miraculous from the 
Catholic understanding of this concept, for some of his followers the distinc- 
tion was less clear. (In fact, even Calvin himself, as we shall see, employed the 
word "miracle" in its traditional use.) As Calvin stated in the Institutes of the 
Christian Religion, Catholics demanded from the Reformers to prove them- 
selves in miracles, signs and wonders. '• Challenged by their Catholic adver- 
saries, Calvinists of all level of theological education and training sometimes 
did make use of miraculous events for religious propaganda. While in their 
theological writings they rejected the persistence of miracles, in their linguistic 
usage they maintained a pre-Reformation reliance on miracles to claim the 
validity of their religious message. 

The Calvinist ambivalence toward miracles and other supernatural occur- 
rences is found in a wide array of texts: theological treatises and polemical 
writings; diaries and poems written by CdWimsisJait divers and the "official" 
history of French Calvinism. In an attempt to trace cultural or linguistic 
common usages of words, I have examined a large number of varied texts, from 
Calvin's own writings to the journal of an anonymous Provençal diarist. The 
following discussion represents a sample of sixteenth-century French Calvin- 
ist writings. The treatment of these texts is segmented, and concentrates on the 
semantic occurrences of key words such as "miracle," "marvels," "provi- 
dence," and their synonyms in dispersed Huguenot writings. The selection 
pays less attention to the differences among the authors and the types of 
writings, though such differences were, of course, very important. It is my 
argument that the cosmology and theology of the Huguenots were created and 
experienced through the "totality" of the uses of specific linguistic expres- 
sions. It was through a "thesaurus" of new meanings to existing words that 
Calvinism both explained and understood itself. This "thesaurus" was not 
limited to the theological writings of Jean Calvin, but was eclectic. By 
compiling the occurrences of key words in early Huguenot writings, we can 
better understand early Calvinism as a lived experience and not just a theology. 
Finally, it is through this eclecticism that the Calvinist notion of the miraculous 
is best explained. 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 9 

Calvin on Miracles 

Despite the fact that events called miracula were so closely woven into the 
texture of Christian experience, thought about miracles remained fixed through- 
out the Middle Ages, following the arguments first laid down by saint 
Augustine, and it was to Augustine that Calvin turned in his discussion of the 
natural order and creation. Augustine argued that there was only one miracle, 
that of creation, and within this miracle God planted all the possibilities for the 
future, including the two corollaries of His incarnation and the Resurrection of 
Christ.'^ "God himself has created all that is wonderful in this world, the great 
miracles as well as the minor marvels . . . and he has included them all in that 
unique wonder, the miracle of miracles, the World itself." ^^ But Augustine 
went on to explain that human beings were so accustomed to the "natural 
miracles" that they needed to be provoked to reverence by unusual manifes- 
tations of God's power. Therefore God created "events," hidden within the 
natural order of things, and included within the original creation, which at 
times cause "miracles" that seem to be contrary to nature but are, in fact, 
inherent in it.^"^ The difference between "natural" and "miraculous" events is 
therefore not an ontological but a psychological one. It is humankind's 
understanding which creates the separation and gives meaning to a wide scope 
of miracles such as mirabilia, miracula, signa, monstra and prodigia,^^ all of 
which are not subject to the usual ways in which Providence acts within nature, 
but are nevertheless parts of the original plan of creation and therefore subject 
to the laws of God. The wonders are caused in the human understanding of the 
order of things; they are miraculous from the beholder's point of view, but 
natural from God's perspective. Thus, the marvellous and the rarity that 
provoke our amazement signify order, not disorder. In their extreme, they 
manifest nature's diversity, and remind us that all of nature is a marvel. ^*^ 

Calvin followed the Augustinian teaching. He developed his theology of 
miracles during the eucharistie controversy with Lutheran theologians over the 
nature of the Eucharist, itself a controversy on the separation of the signified 
and signifier.'^ A total rejection of the reality of "signs," "marks," and 
"miracles" was, of course, impossible in a religion based upon three miracu- 
lous divine interventions in the universe. Indeed, Calvin himself argued that 
"many miracles are subsumed" in the Eucharist.'^ The centrality of the 
Eucharist, however, should not distract us from other revelatory modes 
through which God was believed to show his concern for his people, aspects 
which Calvin never tired of emphasizing. Nature itself, "the most beautiful 

10 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

theater of the world," is a wonder (mirificam, signa), Calvin stated. ^^ The 
rotation of the heavens, for example, is "such a miracle that we should be 
ravished in astonishment by it."^^ In this cosmology, the supernatural does not 
exist as a separate category. Rather, it is encompassed by the natural, as all 
signs and events are part of the divine plan. God is manifested not only in nature 
as a whole, but also shows itself in "particular events."^' Furthermore, God 
"often deliberately changes the laws of nature so that we may know that what 
he really confers is exclusively determined by his will."^^ 

Calvin, like Augustine before him, widened the concept of the miraculous 
to include in it the entire universe, which, in its splendor, is a continuous 
miracle. Both theologians share the same Christian cosmology which recog- 
nizes no boundary between "natural" and "miraculous" events. The "miracu- 
lous" is, ontologically speaking, as natural as the "natural," and the "natural" 
is as "miraculous" as the "supernatural." God's secret plan is hidden from us, 
but well planned and governs all. Any sign which seems to us to be miraculous 
is in fact as premeditated as any other sign, and it is only our shortcomings 
which prevent us from realizing it.^^ Signs and events are in and of themselves 
not miraculous. The miracle occurs not in nature, but in human spiritual 
understanding, and is depended on our ability to grasp it, on faith. 

Accordingly, God's providence continues to manifest itself. Calvin 
rejected wonder-workers and traditional "technical" miracles, but not miracles 
per se: ''we [i.e. the new Church] are not entirely lacking in miracles, and these 
very certain and not subject to mockery."^"* These miracles, however, could only 
be understood through the spirit. Their recognition as miracles is limited to the 
elect, to members of the "vera ecclesia," the people who benefit from God' s grace. 
Only they grasp the cosmic significance of particular signs and events. Their 
reading of signs reveals that God proves his mighty power through his acts in 
support of his people. Every event which strengthens the Calvinist church reveals 
the divine plan, and as such it is a "miracle" and a "sign." These new miracles were 
as visual to the Calvinist believer as supernatural miracles (the traditional 
miracles) were to contemporaries, but the "new" miracles were not as extravagant 
and sensational as medieval miracles. Their visibility was mediated through 
belief. One system of miracles — visually-marvellous events — whose miracu- 
lous nature was self evident, was replaced by another one, in which faith mediated 
the event and its nndraculousness. 

Thus, the Reformed Church is both the object which is signified by the 
miracles, and that which signifies — which determines whether an event is 
miraculous. The fortifying of the Calvinist Church reveals the miraculous plan of 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 11 

Providence at the same time that it testifies to the truthfulness of Calvinist 
theology. Providence still performs miracles, but no longer through the mediation 
of individual saints but through the advancement of the True Church. 

During the colloquium at Poissy in 1561, Théodore de Bèze summarized 
for his listeners the main points of the Huguenots' presupposition on miracles. 
His presentation, which was the only systematic exposition of the Calvinist 
theology of the miraculous, repeated the main arguments which we have 
encountered in Calvin's writings: In the new stage in history miracles were no 
longer necessary to confirm ecclesiastical authority, de Bèze explained. The 
mere fact that the same men who had burned Reformers during the previous 
years had since adopted the new religion was in itself a new sign, which 
testified to the truth of Calvinism.^^ 

The Natural as Miraculous 

In both Calvin's and de Bèze' s writings, the rejection of miracles was 
supplemented by a need to "retain a sense of assurance in the midst of historical 
change,"^^ and to decipher contemporary events, first and foremost the 
growing popularity of the Reformed Church, as miraculous. The detection of 
the hand of God in historical events was, of course, part of biblical and 
medieval historiographies. In this Christian tradition history itself was viewed 
as a revelation, and the study of chronology is based on theological and 
ideological presupposition. It reveals the logic of the relations between God, 
the World, and the Reformed Church. ^^ 

The authors of the Histoire ecclésiastique, the sixteenth-century history 
of the progress of the Reformed Church, inherited and elaborated this Chris- 
tian-Calvinist tradition. For them, too, miracles were a natural part of the 
historical records, and were primarily meant to be edifying. The title "Histoire 
ecclésiastique" locates the text within a specific historiographical tradition. 
Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica), Bede (Historia ecclesiastica gentis 
Anglorum) and Hugh of Fleury (Historia ecclesiastica), among others, had 
used this title previously in their chronicles of the divine revelation through 
history. In this genre of historical writing, an emphasis was placed on a wide 
range of mira and prodigia rather than on miracles of saints. Brief stories, 
curious events, and especially mira of signs and omens supplied the writers of 
these histories with the same kind of testimonies for the progress of salvation 
that the miracles of the saints supplied the authors of the Lives of Saints 

12 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

"Etant arrivé le temps que Dieu avoit ordonné pour retirer ses esleus hors 
des superstitions survenues peu à peu en l'Eglise Romaine," declared the 
editor(s) in the introduction to the official Calvinist history of their origins, 
"Dieu commença de faire retentir sa voix à Orleans, Burges & Tholose."^^ A 
new historical age started in which God interferes directly in the world to 
support his people against the powers of Satan. To the traditional medieval 
periodization of the law into three periods, namely that of natural law, of 
Scripture, and of grace, the author seems to add a fourth, the apocalyptic stage, 
familiar from late medieval writings such as Joachim of Fiore's eschatological 
prophecies.^" This was a historical period of a just judgement and vengeance 
against the enemies of God and the elect, and a time of victory as a religious 
act, every obstacle was treated as another example of the devil's resourceful- 
ness, and every success was regarded as God's will. While Calvinists did not 
share the acute sense of the End which has recently been attributed to Luther 
and to first-generation Lutherans,^' similar eschatological tensions and expec- 
tations were apparent in Calvinist historical writings of the sixteenth century. 
Calvinist authors turned to signs, miracles, and supernatural occurrences, to 
find in them the guarantees that theirs was the only correct interpretation of the 
divine plan. History, indeed, supplied them with clear manifestations that 
divine actions brought salvation to Calvinists and punishment on the Catho- 
lics. These divine interventions were repeatedly described in the Histoire 
ecclésiastique as "miracle" and "miraculous." 

One example was the fate of two Huguenot soldiers who were wounded 
during the battle of Dreux (December 1562). "Après mille estranges adven- 
tures," they managed to escape from the battlefield to their nearby village of 
Dreux and from there to Paris and finally to Orléans, where they were cured. 
The one showed his healed wound as testimony of a "vray miracle de Dieu'' 
The other, who was hit by a bullet in his loins, was cured so quickly that within 
three weeks he could once again ride his horse.^^ More impressive is the story 
of the famous physician Pierre Solery of Aurillac. A bullet crossed his body 
from one thigh to the other; more bullets entered his shoulders and his chest; 
another bullet penetrated his kidney and two more lodged in his forehead. 
Though almost dead, the man did not lose his faith in divine intervention. God 
sent him assistance in the form of one of Solery' s sons, a child of only eight, 
who carried his father to a nearby village. But Solery' s hardships did not end 
there. The villagers did not want to help him, and he had to continue wandering. 
But not for long, because "Dieu lui présenta au mesme instant un autre de ses 
enfants, aagé d'environ dix ans, par lequel souslevé d'autre costé. Dieu voulut 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 13 

qu'il eust asses de force pour arriver en un autre village." The familial drama 
came to an end with the father's complete cure within a few weeks. In this 
drama, the author summarized, "Dieu monstra miraculeusement que la vie des 
siens est en sa main & non point en celle des hommes."^^ 

A miraculous salvation also awaited the Huguenot woman from Saint- 
Clément-de-Craon, who was thrown into the Poum river afer being tortured in 
a thousand different ways. "Mais le Seigneur voulait monstrer à l'oeil que nos 
jours ne sont en la main d'autre que de luy, poussa ceste pauvre femme ainsi 
vielle & caduque droit à l'autre bord de la riviere . . . le jour suivant D/^w^f un 
autre miracle à l'endroit de ceste pauvre femme," and saved her from the cruel 
treatment she received at the hands of the Catholics who found her on the 
shores of the river.^"* ''Un grand miracle de Dieu'' also occurred during the 
martyrdom of Jean Brugère from the village of Formal in the Auvergne. 
Throughout his execution, while he was "attaché à une chaîne de fer," this 
martyr continued to preach the teaching of the Reformed Church, and even the 
inquisitor Ory himself regretted the sentence, left the martyr "à demy bruslé," 
and took to the road to inform other people of this amazing event.^^ 

The enemies of the Faith were punished by God in numerous prodigious 
and miraculous ways. Catholic judges who executed Huguenots died soon 
after the trial, usually a horrible death. This was the lot of Jean André, "un petit 
libraire du Palais," and a member of the Confraternity of the Bearers of the 
Reliquary of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, who died of a stroke without even 
having time to confess for his spying on Calvinists.^^ The same happened to 
Jean Craneguin, "un ancien avocat," whom God punished with "une maladie 
de phrenesie merveilleusement estrange" which caused him to see everything 
that was shown to him as serpents. ^^ The Parisian capitaine du quartier Garget 
was attacked by a "fievre chaude, courut publiquement par les rues, blasphémant 
& invoquant les Diables ... & ainsi mourut insensé & furieux dont ses 
compagnons ne se faisoient que rire."^^ Insanity also manifested the just 
judgement of God in the death of judge Florent Pamjaon, who strangled 
himself to put an end to his torments. God's retribution sometimes resembled 
the punishment the judges themselves had afflicted on the Huguenots. The 
judge and conj^/Z/^rLaubespin, who was the first to order martyrs' tongues cut 
out before their execution in order to prevent them from testifying the truth of 
their religion, was punished on his own tongue. Insects took over his body and 
settled in his throat, preventing him from eating or drinking. In order to force 
him to eat, his relatives had to "bridle" his tongue. Tormented and "bailloné," 
he died in the same torture that he himself had perfected.^' 

14 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Deaths of kings acquired special importance in the Calvinist view of 
history. Two French kings died in the years 1559-1560, and it was difficult to 
regard this as pure coincidence. In 1559, Henri 11 died as a result of "le Juste 
Judgement de Dieu." The following year God "cures the maladies of France" 
by the death of François II."^ The Calvinist poet Jean de la Taille was quick to 
describe the deaths as "m2irvellous miracles": 

Ces faits divins, ces merveilleux miracles 
Roys insensez, malins, sourds, impudens 
Vous font scavoir qu'en ces piteux spectacles 
Il faut mourrir ou devenir prudens.'*' 

And a Calvinist diarist from Millau (Cévennes) explained that 

En despict de ces deuls. Dieu feiist recogneii per toute la Guaule. Et [Henri 
n] moreiit T an 1 560, que fust un miracle. Et après ledict Henric, succéda son 
fils François, lequel fist de plus grans cruautés contre l'Esglise que son diet 
feu père et moreùst cest année mesmes, que fust un miracle évidant, car 
moreiist d'une apostume à l'orelle, sens trever remède.'*^ 

Similarly, the premature death of Charles IX, 14 years later, indicated "qu'il 
estoibt mort cruellement, d'un flux de sang, tant des partie aultes que baces, 
dénotant par sela comme pleusieurs avoient profétisé que: qui de sang vit, de 
sang mort, comme chescun le saict bien.'"*^ 

The theologians from Geneva who edited the Histoire ecclésiastique and 
the provincial diary-keeper both kept track of the realization of the Providen- 
tial plan to establish the city of God on earth. Both wrote down, in d' Aubigné's 
words, every "accident which helps the realization of the doctrine.'"^ The 
authors of the Histoire ecclésiastique, the committed poet and the humble 
believer all shared the same eschatological hopes and excitement. Their 
reading of history was determined by their study of supporting signs of nature. 
They needed visual proofs of their faith, and found them in testimonies which 
followed the biblical law, "Wherever hurt is done, you shall give life for life, 
eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, bum for bum, bmise 
for bmise, wound for wound" (Exodus, 21 :23-5). While the cause of death in 
some of these cases could have been attributed to natural causes, its meaning 
for the Calvinist believer was clear: Providence supports its elect in different 
ways, and even a presumably natural death is, in fact, a sign of the divine 
justice. Similarly, even the iconoclasm in some churches in France and the 
Netherlands in the 1560s was not an act of man but of God. The Calvinist 
protector Condé, indeed, felt sorry for the destmction of churches, but 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 15 

explained "que cela ne pou voit estre imputé qu'à un secret mouvement de 
Dieu.'"*^ In breaking images, as Phyllis Mack Crew explained, "the iconoclasts 
in both countries were demonstrating in the most irrefutable and dramatic way 
possible ... the superiority of the Reformers' miraculous powers, since the 
ministers were able to commit such scandalous actions against the Church and 
remain unpunished.'"*^ The blending of the natural and the miraculous in these 
cases points out the new meaning the Reformers ascribed to the concept of 
"miracle": direct divine interventions in the world in a manner that contra- 
dicted the orderly functioning of the universe, but gives visual support to the 
claim that Calvinism itself is the greatest miracle of this historical stage. 

The Miraculous as Natural 

Brilliant, open-minded, creative and controversial, Simon Goulart is one of the 
more colorful among the sober theologians of Geneva. Goulart was bom in 
Senlis in 1543, and moved to Geneva in 1566, soon after his conversion. Five 
years after his arrival in the city he was already pastor of the municipal parish 
of Saint-Gervais, and married to the 15-year-old daughter of Nicolas Picot, a 
respectable bourgeois of the city and member of the city council, the Deux- 
Cents. Several years later Goulart became a member of the Compagnie de 
pasteurs. In 1604 he was elected president of the Compagnie, and until 1612, 
when he resigned, Goulart was "le veritable chef du pouvoir spirituel.'"*^ A 
close friend of Théodore de Bèze and Jean Crespin, he participated in the 
editing of both the Histoire ecclésiastique and the Histoire des Martyrs, and 
his name appears among the translators of the Genevan Bible of 1588. He 
translated works of Seneca, Plutarch, Wier, Calvin, Beza, and François 
Hotman into French, and found time to compose two monumental histories of 
events in France in the second half of the sixteenth century: Mémoires de 
r Estât de France sous Charles Neufiesme (1578) and Mémoires de la ligue 
(1587-1590), along with more than 70 other works and translations."*^ 

In the first decade of the seventeenth century, Goulart published, in 
Protestant Geneva and ultra-Catholic Paris simultaneously (!), a collection of 
thousands of "admirable" events which attracted his attention. The collection 
presents a complex interplay of the natural and the miraculous."*^ Goulart 
published whatever he could lay his hands on. Catholic as well as Protestant 
polemical pamphlets, /a/rJ/ver^ and medical treatises, legal cases and occur- 
rences of apparitions. His taste for the bizarre surpassed both his interest in 
theological controversies and his political and religious loyalties. Goulart 

16 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

seldom edited his sources, even when they offered a doctrinal position which 
contradicted his own confessionalism. In fact, it is not easy to tell from the 
collection whether the editor was a Calvinist, a Catholic, or a Copt, or whether 
he was a Frenchman, an Italian, or a subject of the Sultan. All of these religions, 
cultures, and countries appear side by side in the collection. 

In his stories, Goulart did not shy away from morals that were theologi- 
cally-contested. He included in his collection two cases of resurrection of the 
dead, in which Egyptian Copts who had been assassinated by their Muslim 
enemies come back to life.^" At another point he wrote that he was ashamed of 
"offending the eye or the ear of the honest and devoted reader," and therefore 
refrained from describing words of abuse by an idolatrous man from Clavennes, 
directed against the name of God and the "bienheureuse vierge Marie."^* 
Clearly, Goulart spent little time editing and "Calvinizing" his sources. He, in 
fact, praised himself for not changing "nearly anything" in the stories he 
collected.^^ But in light of what we know of the period, his accuracy and 
tolerance are surprising. We would not expect to fmd a member of the 
Company of Pastors so offended by blasphemous words against the Virgin, 
neither recalling a miraculous resurrection at the very same time that the ability 
to resurrect was employed by the Catholics to prove the truthfulness of their 
doctrine against the Calvinists, and was denied firmly by the latter.^^ 

Even when Goulart did edit his sources, he used neutral terms. He 
mentioned on two different occasions two of the Popes' offsprings, a unique 
opportunity for a Calvinist author to attack the Babylonian fornication of the 
Catholic Church. Both times Goulart did not add any cynical remark to the 
idiomatic expression "fils du Pape," as might have been expected from the co- 
editor of the Histoire des Martyrs. ^^ 

What can account for Goulart' s apparent indifference to the religious 
controversies of his time? In the numerous dedications to his brother and in the 
forewords to the reader which introduced each of the volumes, Goulart 
elaborated his view on the place of the natural and the supernatural in the 
universe, 2md added a layer to our understanding of the Calvinist concept of 
miracles. "Je les appelle Admirables, à cause que les raisons d'une grand part 
d'icelles sont fort eslongnees de mon apprehension & qu 'il y a du miracle, ce 
me semble''^^ He recorded in his collection tales of a monstrous birth, a 
horrible murder, a military victory or a blessed healing, because they all 
happened due to God' s will. God willed them because he wanted us to meditate 
about the lessons these events teach, and to honor him for all his works. The 
bizarre and the rare (strange cases of idolatry or a chapter on the prodigious 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 17 

appetite of women) testified to the variety of God's interventions in the 
worid.^^ Whatever shows us the divine order also manifests how difficult it is 
for human beings to understand God's actions. Whatever causes us to believe 
in him and to fear him is a miracle, "et voila tout de Thomme."^^ 

The divine plan manifested itself in prodigies and in external signs, which 
were part of nature, and which together revealed the essence of this plan. Each 
year, according to Goulart, more unusual events occurred in the world. There 
have been more plagues, more wars and more times of famine in the sixteenth- 
century than ever before, and 35 times during the century apparitions have 
appeared in the sky. The meaning of each event for itself is hidden from us, but 
they all were significant, as they were all signs of the just judgement of God 
who punished the sins of the world. All these occurrences were like the 
blowing of the trumpets which announce the end of day s^^ The miraculous, the 
outstanding, and the bizarre, were all contextualized by Goulart within a 
natural divine order. "In a diversity of ways His grace manifests itself for those 
who should pay him back."^^ 

Goulart' s book enjoyed an immense popularity. Within 20 years it was 
published in 16 editions in four different languages (French, English, German, 
and Dutch). According to the book' s natural theology, there exists an objective 
divine order, which does not correspond to the subjective human understand- 
ing of the order of things but rather imposes its laws on human disorder. God' s 
active presence in the universe is manifested and narrated through marvellous 
events which show his grace and his revenge. In compiling the stories, Goulart 
himself participated in the theological enterprise of bearing witness to the 
divine order. Human nature, as Augustine and Calvin argued, is weak, and 
demands continuous affirmation of the divine. Goulart' s collection supplied 
this need. The narration made occurrences meaningful. It rendered them 
miraculous, and therefore natural; natural, and therefore miraculous. 

Supernatural Miracles 

One of the characteristics of the Calvinist miracles which we have examined 
so far was their "subjective" nature. The death of a French king or a Huguenot 
military victory were miracles only in the eyes of Calvinist spectators. As we 
have seen, no boundary was drawn in Calvinist theology between the natural 
and the miraculous. By widening the concept of the miraculous to encompass 
the entire universe, Calvinist theologians and believers blended the miraculous 
with the natural, and argued for the crucial role of faith as a mediation between 

18 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

the signified and the signifiers. Direct correlation between sign and meaning 
did not exist, and the two had to be negotiated through the Spirit, which 
rendered them meaning. 

Nevertheless, in a few incidents Huguenot authors recorded "objective" 
miracles, namely events when the miraculous nature of signs was beyond 
dispute. For heuristic reasons, and based on the pattern they all follow, we 
could name them "biblical miracles." In the biblical miracle, as in all Calvinist 
miracles, it is God himself who performs the supernatural events. Unlike most 
Calvinist miracles, however, these are unique in their "objective" visibility: 
these are divine interventions which can be seen and understood by all to be 
miraculous. Through these miracles even the non-Calvinist could and should 
be convinced that God supports the Huguenots against the Catholics. 

Towards the end of June, 1558, a group of "ceux de la religion" made their 
way back from a nightly secret prayer in the fields near Bondes, not far from 
Blois. At about eleven o'clock at night, a great flame appeared in the sky above 
them and advanced in front of them to the city, shedding light on the way. Both 
Calvinist and Catholic citizens of the city verified this divine sign.^ On Easter 
day 1562, the Calvinist preacher Pierre Viret was preaching in Toulouse when 
suddenly, an hour after he started his sermon, three suns appeared in the sky, 
creating an arch. A Calvinist from the nearby town of Millau described the 
three suns: "feiirent veiis trois soleills en plein gom. Tun près de l'autre, de 
plusieurs colurs. Bien est verai que la coleur rouge supéroit sus toutes autres 
coleurs; verai est que la un de touts estoit tout roge, colur de sang."^* The 
phenomenon of "triple parhelia" was noted a number of times during the 
sixteenth century. It was a common sign in late medieval and early modem 
apocalyptic wonder-books, usually taken as a warning and as a fearful sign. 
French historian Florimond de Raemond regarded it as a clear sign of the 
coming of heresy .^^ The appearance of the three suns was therefore followed 
by expressions of terror. But a medieval tradition also related the appearance 
of three suns to the birth of Christ and the beginning of a New Age.^^ The 
appearance of the sign in Toulouse was thus open for contradictory interpre- 
tations. As it turned out, the triple parhelia in this case was a sign for a coming 
disaster. In the same month there was a massacre of Calvinists at Vassy and the 
civil war broke out.^ Similarly, during the assault on Calvinists in Lyon, in 
April 1574, big drops of pure blood rained on the city, and public opinion 
realized that '*que s'estoibt un miracle, perce que dens ladite ville avoient 
respendu beaucoup de sang ignosent des gens de la Religion. "^^ Finally, in 
1575, a comet, "toute rouge comme de sang," appeared in the sky on two 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 19 

different occasions, maybe signifying the blood of the martyrs.^ 

Keeping in mind Calvin's fierce attack of astrology and astrologers, and 
the opposition to prognosticators in the Histoire ecclésiastique^'^, the direct 
appeal to astrological evidence testifies to the growing need of these compilers 
to use divine signs to support their cause. The timing of these astrological 
references coincided with large scale persecutions of Huguenots, with the 
outbreak of the first civil war in France, and with the major military defeat at 
Vassy. The most outstanding miracle of this sort took place in 1573 during the 
siege of La Rochelle, and is recalled by Goulart, d' Aubigné, and the Calvinist 
of Millau. "Sur la grande nécessité des Rochelois, le havre fut rempli d'une 
monstrueuse quantité de sourdons et de pétoncles, ce qu'on n'avoit jamais veu 
en ce lieu et dont les Réformés ont encore les tableaux en leurs maisons, pour 
mémoire, comme d'un miracle .''^^ This "marvel," as d' Aubigné calls the event, 
drew the attention of other Calvinist chroniclers, and its fame reached even the 
provincial Huguenot of Millau, whose enthusiastic description of the "miracu- 
lous event" [''choses miraculeuses''] was filled with exaggerations and mag- 
nifications. When the people within the walls started to die of starvation, God 
sent them a huge quantity offish which had never before been seen in the area. 

Feiist-il cuict à la paoële ou aus charbons ou en quelque sorte que feùst, voire 
tout cru et fust-il sens sel, lequel avoict un guost admirable, lequel peisson 
estoibt bon sens pein aussi bien que en pein; vous assurant que ce peisson 
feiist un grant solagement à tout le peuple, lequel Ton apeloit du sardon, 
auquel l'on n'avoict iamais plus veii en ce lieu là, sinon per la mer, mais 
n'estoit pas si beau ni de tel guost.^^ 

This lovely dish, a mixture of biblical manna, the miracle of the fish and 
the loaves, and the delicacies of Provençal cuisine, serves to emphasize the 
unique character of the supernatural miracles in Calvinist theology. The 
centrality of the Bible in Calvinist theology was correlated with a return to the 
use of biblical criteria and images in conducting religious life and in perceiving 
religious phenomena. The true Church, identified by its return to the purified 
biblical belief, was supported by biblical miracles. Instead of saints, healers 
and relics, it was equipped with a cloud of fire, with an arch in the sky, and with 
manna. God's covenants with Noah, with Moses, and with David were all 
renewed in this new covenant with the Calvinist. As Goulart stated at the 
concluding remarks of his Mémoires de V Estât de France sous Charles 
Neufiesme: "Les miracles les plus remarquables que Dieu a fait en la conser- 
vation des siens en plusieurs milliers d'années, ont esté par luy renouvelez à 
l'endroit de ceux de la Religion en l'espace de quelques mois."^" Furthermore, 

20 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

in their usage of the terms "miracle" and "miraculous" in connection with these 
events, Calvinist authors reappropriated the condemned and much maligned 
role of Catholic prognosticators and divines. 

As these examples make clear, the overlap of the natural and the miracu- 
lous in first-generation Huguenot thought did not entirely erase the existence 
of contemporary miracles. Nor was the survival of what has been termed 
"popular" or "superstitious" beliefs among Calvinist believers only the result 
of a persistence of pre-Reformation traditions. Rather, it was a part of the 
blending of the miraculous and the natural in Calvinist cosmology. The 
Genevan theologians Beza, Crespin, Viret and Goulart; the poet d'Aubigné; 
and the humble believer from the provincial town of Millau, who collects 
pamphlets and rumours and recorded them in his journal — all shared a belief 
in a permanent action of Providence in the universe. All looked for visual 
proofs as testimonies of this action, and all celebrated miraculous events that 
testified that their cosmology and theology were correct. They all shared a 
language and culture that concurrently rejected and endorsed miraculous 
interventions in the world. The Calvinist interpretation of history as a provi- 
dential act, as a continuous revelation, was shared by all Calvinists (and in fact, 
by all Christians), and was articulated originally by Calvin himself The return 
to this Pentateuchal perception of God, and the renewal of this and other 
patristic traditions, all added up to the creation of a sacred theatre of the 
universe in which the sacred and the desecrated, the divine and the diabolical, 
the Calvinist and the Catholic fought the last battle. Victory belonged to the 
Calvinist, and specific signs within this setting demonstrated it. In deciphering 
the meaning of these signs, and rendering them miraculous, the Calvinist 
reintroduced the miraculous into God's natural plan. More importantly, they 
located the Calvinist Church itself as the major miracle in the divine plan. 

Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

I thank Natalie Z. Davis, Mordechai Feingold, Bryant Simon and the referee for this journal 
for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. 

1. On the varieties of Calvinisms see Menna Prestwich, éd., International Calvinism, 1541- 
1715 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985). 

2. I am following J.M. Lotman and B. Uspensky's definition of culture as "a system of signs" 
in their "On the Semiotic Mechanism of Culture," New Literary History 9:2 (1978), p. 21 1 . 
Cf. Lotman' s "The Poetics of Everyday Behavior in Russian Eighteenth Century Culture" 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 21 

in Ann Shukman (éd.). The Semantics of Russian Culture (Ann Arbor: Department of Slavic 
Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan, 1984), p. 231. Denis Crouzet has 
recently used a similar image, and discussed Catholicism and Calvinism as "two texts." Les 
guerriers de Dieu. La violence au temps des troubles de religion (Seyssel: Champ Vallon, 
1990), vol. l,p. 102. 

3. S. UUman, Semantics: An Introduction to the Science of Meaning (Oxford: Blackwell, 
1973), ch. 3. Ullman's definition follows Ferdinand de Saussure' s distinction between 
langue and parole. See Course in General Linguistics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966). 

4. "Merae sunt satanae illusiones." Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion ( 1 559), éd. 
by J.T. McNeill, tr. by F.L. Battles, 2 vols. [Philadelphia: Library of Christian Classics, 
1960), I, "Prefatory Address to King Francis," pp. 17-18 [cited below as Inst.]; loannis 
Calvini Opera quae supersunt omnia, eds. W. Baum, E. Cunitz and E. Reuss. (Brunswick, 
1863-1900), vol. 2, col. 17 [hereafter CO]. 

5 . [Théodore de Bèze] , Histoire ecclésiastique des églises réformées au royaumes de France, 
eds. W. Baum and E. Cunitz, 3 vols. (Paris, 1883-89), III, p. 51 [hereafter Hw. Ecc.]. 

6. Jehan Calvin, Traicté ou advertissement contre l'Astrologie, qu'on appelle judiciaire et 
autres curiositez qui régnent aujourd'hui au monde (Geneva, 1549), pp. 4-9. 

7. For a detailed discussion of Calvin' s theology of the Natural Order see Susan E. Schreiner, 
The Theater of his Glory. Nature and the Natural Order in the Thought of John Calvin 
(Durham, NC: Labyrinth Press, 1991), pp. 7-37. 

8. Inst. 1, 16:9 (p. 20S). 

9. There is no systematic study of popular Calvinism, but see anecdotal evidence in J. Estèbe 
and B. Vogler, "La genèse d'une société protestante: étude comparée de quelques registres 
consistoriaux languedociens et palatins vers 16(X)," Annales E.S.C, 31 (1976), pp. 372-3; 
W.H. Monter, "The Consistory of Geneva, 1559-1569" Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et 
Renaissance, 38 (1976), pp. 480-1; P. Joutard, "Protestantisme populaire et univers 
magique: le cas cévenol," Le monde alpin et rhodanien, 5 (1977), pp. 145-171 ; J. Garrison- 
Estèbe, Protestants du midi, 1 559-1 598 (Toulouse: Privât, 1980), pp. 142-7. 

10. B. Vogler, "La Réforme et le concept de miracle au XVP"* siècle," Revue du l'histoire de 
la spiritualité, 48 ( 1 972), p. 1 45 ; D. P. Walker, "The Cessation of Miracles" in Hermeticism 
and the Renaissance. Intellectual History and the Occult in Early Modem Europe, eds. 
Ingrid Merkel and Allen G. Debus. (Washington, London and Toronto: Folger Shakespeare 
Library, 1988), pp. 111-124. 

11. Inst. "Prefatory Address to King Frances," p. 16; CO, II: 15. 

1 2. Saint Augustine, City of God, tr. by H. Bettenson (Hammonds worth: Penguin Books, 1972), 
22.8, p. 1034. 

13. /fcfV/.,21.9,p.985. 

14. /^iV/., 22.8, pp. 1033-1047. 

15. /WJ., 21.8, p. 982. 

22 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

16. On the concept of the marvel in the Renaissance see Jean Céard, La nature et les prodiges. 
L'insolite au XVl' siècle en France (Geneva: Droz, 1977); idem, "The Crisis of the Science 
of Monsters" in Humanism in Crisis. The Decline of the French Renaissance, ed. Philippe 
Desan. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990), pp. 181-205. On the marvellous 
in Lutheran theology see Robin Bruce Barnes, Prophecy and Gnosis. Apocalypticism in the 
Wake of the Lutheran Reformation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988). 

17. See Bernard Cottret, "Pour une sémiotique de la réfoime" Annales E.S.C., 39:2 (1984), pp. 

18. Inst. IV: 17:24 (p. 1390): CO 11:1023: "In his paucis verbis qui non sentit multa subesse 
miracula, plus quam stupidus est." 

19. Inst. 1:5:2 (pp. 53-54); CO, 11:42. 

20. "Commentary on Psalms 1 04" CO XXXII:94; quoted and translated in William J. Bouwsma, 
John Calvin. A Sixteenth Century Portrait (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 
1988), p. 166. Cf. "Commentary on Psalms 22" CO XXXI:226 on childbirth as a miracle. 
Sec aiso Inst. 1:14:21 (p. 181); CO 2:133: "For there are as many miracles of divine power, 
as many tokens of goodness, and as many proofs of wisdom, as there are kinds of things in 
the universe, indeed, as there are things wither great or small." Cf. Dewey J. Hoitenga, Faith 
and Reason from Plato to Plantinga: An Introduction to Reformed Epistemology (Albany: 
State University of New York Press, 1991), pp. 150-157. 

21. Inst. I: 16:7, (p. 205.); CO 11:150: "particulares eventus." Cf Inst. 1:13:13, (p. 136): "How 
plainly and clearly is His deity shown in miracles." CO II: 100: "In miraculis autem quam 
perspicue luculenteque apparet." 

22. "Commentary on Genesis 48," CO, XXIII:585. 

23. -Sermon 12 on the Harmony of the Three Gospels' CO XL VI: 141; "Sermon 12 on 
Deuteronomy 2" CO XXVI:25. Richard Stauffer, Dieu, la création et la Providence dans 
la prédication de Calvin (Berne, Francfort and Las Vegas: Peter Lang, 1978), pp. 261-275. 

24. Inst. "Prefatory Address to King Frances," p. 17; CO 11:17: "miracula ergo nobis minime 
desunt, eaque certa nee cauillis obnoxia." 

25. His. Ecc. I, pp. 643-644. 

26. I have borrowed the term from R.B. Barnes, Prophecy, p. 114. 

27. C.-G. Dubois, La conception de l'histoire en France au XVI* siècle, 1560-1610 (Paris: A.- 
G.Nizet, 1977), pp. 40-41. 

28. B. Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 
1982), pp. 201-213. 

29. His. Ecc. \, pp. 1,8-9, 17. 

30. A. Funkenstein, "Periodization and Self-Understanding in the Middle Ages and Early 
Modem Times," Medievalia et Humanistica, 5 ( 1 974), pp. 1 0- 1 1 . Other divisions of history 
into distinct periods were also common in this period. See Barnes, pp. 103-115. The 
following discussion was influenced by Barnes' discussion of Lutheran eschatology. 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 23 

31. Barnes, Prophecy, Paola Zambelli, éd., "Astrologi hallucinati" : Stars and the End of the 
World in Luther's Time (berlin and New York: W. de Gruyter, 1986); Heiko A. Oberman, 
Luther: Man between God and the Devil (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 

32. //w. fee. II, p. 312. 

33. Ibid., II, 565-566. 

34. Ibid. , II, 672-3. Was it the same woman who was saved twice by employing the "miraculous 
force and wisdom God had provided her with"? See p. 679. 

35. /few., I, p. 73. 

36. Ibid., I, p. 72. 

37. Ibid., I, pp. 76-1. 

39. Ibid., I, pp. 41 1-412, Additional examples of "la miséricorde de Dieu" appear in His. Ecc. 
I, pp. 83, 102, 335-7; II, 494, 504, 5 16, and 5 1 8. See also Jean Crespin, Histoire de martyrs 
persécutez et mis à mort pour la vérité de l'évangile (Geneva, 1619), éd. Daniel Benoît, 3 
vols. (Toulouse, 1885) , vol. I, pp. 363-4; III, p. 712; Mémoires de Condé, 6 vols. (London, 
1743-45), pp. 591-4. The Protestant poet Agrippa d'Aubigné recorded the story of Jean- 
Marie Trombaut, a judge from Piémont, whose nose was eaten by a wolf because he had 
ordered a pastor's nose cut off. Agrippa d'Aubigné Histoire universelle. Book II, ch. 11,8 
vols. (Geneva: Droz, 198 1 ), vol. 1 , p. 243. See there pp. 239-243, for a list of other "biblical" 
punishments. Finally, compare to d'Aubigné' s "Vengeances," part four of Les Tragiques, 
vv. 769-1 132, in Oeuvres (Paris: Pléiade, 1966), pp. 206-214. 

40. Hist. Ecc. I, 269, 375. 

41 . 'Tombeau du Roy Françoys II" in J. Pineauz, La poésie des Protestants de langue française 
du premier synode national jusqu 'à la proclamation del'éditde Nantes (1559-1598) (Paris: 
Klincksieck, 1971),p. 24. 

42. Mémoires d'un Calviniste de Millau, éd. J.-L. Rigal, Archives historiques du Rouergue II 
(Rodez: Carrère, 1911), p. 472. And see Ibid., p. 12, the diarist's description of François II's 
death: "Notés que en ces temps ci, le roy [François II] fasoipt de grans persécutions et 
exécutions contre seus de la Religion ... et s'il heiise vescu davantage ou que Dieu ne lui 
eiist reteneii la bride, il ne heiisse laissé homme de la Religion sus la terre . . . Car Dieu ne 
put soufrir telles choses: incontinant [Dieju lui manda son héraut de sa justicie que [lui 
envoya] une apostumme en une aurelle qui i avoict doleurs intollérables; lequel Roi moreiit, 
le sixiesme jom du mois de désambre, 1560." 

43. Ibid., p. 304. 

44. Agrippa d'Aubigné, Histoire universelle, vol. 1, p. 243. 

45. His. Ecc. II, p. 74. Crespin, Histoire de Martyrs, III, 521: "Jugement merveilleux & 
providence de Dieu"; p. 522: "c'a esté le doigt & la puissance de Dieu qui a fait ceci." 

24 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

46. P. Mack Crew, Calvinist Preaching and Iconodasm in the Netherlands, 1544-1569 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), pp. 26-7. 

47. Leonard Chester Jones, Simon Goulart, 1543-1628 (Geneva and Paris: Georg/Champion, 
1917), p. 248. This is still the only biography of Goulart, but see Robert M. Kingdon, Myths 
about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacres, 1572-1576 (Cambridge, MA, and Lx)ndon: 
Harvard University Press, 1988), for a discussion of Goulart's Mémoires de V estât de 
France sous Charles IX. 

48. A detailed bibliography of Goulart's 75 (!) works appears in Jones, pp. 553-650. 

49. The collection has not enjoyed much attention from scholars. There is a short discussion of 
it in Rudolf Schenda, "Die franzosische Prodigienliteratur in des Zweiten Halfte des 16. 
Jahrhunderts," Miinchner Romanistische Arbeiten XVI (1961), pp. 84-9. 

50. Simon Goulart, Histoires admirables et mémorables de notre temps. Recueillies de 
plesieurs Autheurs, Mémoires & Avis de divers endroits (Paris, 1707), p. 34. 

51. /^iW., pp. 25-6. 

52. Ibid, p. 3, "Adertissement au lecteur." 

53. H. Platelle, Les Chrétiens face au miracle. Lille au XVI' siècle (Paris: Cerf, 1968), pp. 48- 
70; M. Bemos, "Réflexions sur un miracle àrAnnonciaded'Aix-en-Provence,"Awiû/e5 Jm 
Midi, 82, (1970), pp. 5-20. 

54. Simon Goulart, Thresor d'histoires admirables et mémorables de nostre temps, 2 vols. 
(Geneva, 1620), II, pp. 894 and 938. Goulart's source is Francesco Guicciardini's Storia 
d'Italia, book I, ch. 3 and book VI, ch. 4 (Turin: Einaudi, 1971), vol. 1, pp. 20-21 & 554- 

55. Histoires, p. 3; cf. Thresor, vol. 1, p. 4 (Italics added). 

56. Histoires, pp. 8-26; 47-56. 

57. Ibid., p. 3. 

58. /^iV/., pp. 81-2. 

59. Thresor, vol. 2, p. 557. 

60. His. Ecc, I, p. 175. 

61. Calviniste de Millau, p. 39. 

62. Florimond de Raemond, Histoire de la naissance, progrez et décadence de l 'Hérésie de ce 
siècle divisée en huit livres (Paris, 1605), book I, ch. 2, fol. 7. For additional examples see 
Ottavia Niccoli, Prophesy and People in Renaissance Italy (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 1990), pp. 185-188. 

63. According to Niccoli, the prodigy was part of the repertory of exempla of late medieval 
preaching; Ibid., p. 186, note 49. Barnes, pp. 82-93, discusses its appearance in Lutheran 
wonder-books. On articles by Krzysztof Pomian and John D. North in P. Zambelli (éd.), 
"Astrology hallucinati" , pp. 29-100. 

Moshe Sluhovsky / Calvinist Miracles and the Concept of the Miraculous / 25 

64. His. Ecc, III, pp. 163-4. 

65. Calviniste de Millau, p. 299. 

66. Ibid., pp. 349-50. 

67. See n. 4-5 above. 

68. D' Aubigné, Histoire universelle, book V, ch. 1 1, p. 35; cf. Goulart, Mémoires de l' estât de 
France sous Charles Neufiesme, vol. 2 (Middlebourg, 1578), II, pp. 293v-294r: "II ne faut 
passer sous silence la prouision de viures que Dieu leur fournit lors que les munitions 
ordinaries commencèrent à défaillir, c'est asauoir numbre infini de menus poissons qui se 
venoient comme rendre à la merci de ces assièges." 

69. Calviniste de Millau, pp. 265-6. 

70. Goulart, Mémoires, p. 783. 

The Development of 

Hispanitas in Spanish 

Sixteenth-Century Versions 

of the Fall of Numancia 


Summary: The story of the Celtiberian town of Numancia and its fall in 133 
B.C., as seen in the writings of Livy, Plutarch and others, was a well- 
established topos in sixteenth-century Spain. The accounts of the bravery of the 
Numantians in defending their besieged city formed the basis for hispanitas, the 
gradual construction of a Spanish national identity. This paper examines the 
circulation of the tale ofNumancia in four writers of the period: Antonio Guevara, 
Ambrosio de Morales, Fernando de Herrera, and Miguel de Cervantes. 

After decades of intermittent battle with the Romans and months of a final 
siege organized by Scipio Africanus (thereafter Numantinus), the 
Celtiberian town ofNumancia, located near what is now Soria, fell in 1 33 B.C. 
Although prisoners were taken, ancient and early modem writers alike praised 
the once prosperous community of 8,000 inhabitants for choosing to destroy 
itself rather than yield its people and riches to its conquerors. The various tales 
illustrating the bravery and daring of the few Numantians (3,000-4,000 men) 
against the many Romans (as many as 50,000 troops) earned the city fame and 
respect already in ancient times, as seen in the writings of Livy, Plutarch and 
many others. • In spite of reports of cannibalism and the homicide of some 
members of Numancia, in all these accounts the valor and sacrifice of the 
Celtiberians stand in contrast to the cowardice and decadence of the Romans. 
Only Scipio merits praise among the Romans in this ignominious tale, for he 
alone evinces the military strength of will and character necessary to discipline 
his lascivious and timid troops and subjugate the fierce barbarians. In an ironic 
twist of fate recognized by the Roman historians, the barbarous Numantians, 
unlike their unworthy conquerors, achieve fame by representing Roman 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 2 (1995) 111 

28 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

imperial values in their willingness to die for ih&ir patria} 

By the sixteenth century, the tale of Numancia circulated throughout 
Spain in the writings of Antonio Guevara, Ambrosio de Morales, Fernando de 
Herrera, and Miguel de Cervantes as an example of the conflict between 
individual and conmiunal interests, particularly with respect to the valor and 
bravery of the Spanish people conceived of as hispanitas. Antonio Guevara, 
the Bishop of Mondonedo and Charles V's official chronicler, recounted the 
tale in the first volume of his Epistolasfamiliares (1539) as a moral exemplum 
unrelated to any specific characterization of national character. For Guevara, 
the city's antagonist, the Roman commander Scipio, stood out as a bad 
example of the evil effects of obstinacy in a man of war, which resulted in 
barbaric reactions by the Numantians. It was left to Ambrosio de Morales, a 
historian in the court of Philip II, to depict the city of Numancia as the 
protagonist of the account in his continuation of Florian Ocampo*s Coronica 
general de Espana (1574), an officially sanctioned history of Spain. Morales' 
narration exemplified the use of the tale to describe a Spanish character, or 
"natural" in his own words, in order to promulgate a national identity based 
upon the military values of bravery, self-sacrifice, and virile strength, under- 
mined only by a propensity to divisiveness. The Sevillian poet Fernando de 
Herrera revealed in off-hand allusions to the tale in his commentaries on the 
poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega (1580) the extent to which these values 
pervaded his concept of literary value. The poet, like the Numantian, served his 
patria through the defense of its fama. Yet Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra, a 
man of arms and letters, cast light upon the intellectual contradictions and 
tensions implicit in the application of the Numantian example to sixteenth- 
century Spain in his dramatic representation of the episode. La Numancia. 
When placed within the historical narrative of an Iberia perceived as a 
continuous community from pre-Roman times to the sixteenth century, the 
Numancia tale clearly provided teleological justification for the Hapsburgian 
unification of the peninsula and imperial undertakings in Italy. Yet, as the 
tensions of Cervantes' play revealed, the Roman values of patriotic service to 
the empire never comfortably aligned with the values of a nation that also 
proclaimed itself the defender of Catholic orthodoxy. 

Guevara's Account: The Moral of the Story 

In Letter 5 of his first book of the Epistolas familiares, Antonio de Guevara 
relates the siege and fall of Numancia in reply to an argument between Alonso 
Manrique, Archbishop of Se villa, and Antonio Manrique, Duke of Najera, 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 29 

concerning the site of the Celtiberian town. Although Guevara correcty asserts 
it to have been near modem Soria, the settling of the dispute merely provides 
him with an excuse to recount the entire story as a moralistic tale. Scolding the 
two noblemen for having entered so stubbornly into the dispute, he reprimands 
them for having violated the dignity of their own status as hidalgos. For this 
sixteenth-century Spaniard, the social caste of the noble is still that of the 
warrior. "Al caballero que es animoso, esforçado y valeroso, nunca se le ha de 
encender la colera, si no fuere en desenvainando la espada, porque muy 
poquitas veces sale esforçado el caballero que es muy parlero."^ The warrior 
is a man of action, not words, who, unlike the philosopher, cannot indulge in 
anger or dispute because his weapon, the sword, could cause unjust bloodshed. 

For Guevara, the tale of Numancia is essentially that of Scipio's uncom- 
promising obstinacy and the violent havoc it brings about in the Celtiberian 
community. The Numantians remain undifferentiated and unnamed, a collec- 
tive that lived in a society unblemished by commerce and greed, which would 
have served to introduce distinction among them. The blacksmith was the 
city's only official, and even in war the community acted as one. Tradesmen 
and skilled craftspeople were not allowed to reside in the city in order that the 
inhabitants would remain self-sufficient, each household providing for all its 
own needs. The resulting communal ethos discouraged personal gains and 
encouraged the defense of the city-state. In his description of the Numantians, 
Guevara implies that even honor was a communal rather than personal 
concern: "de hazienda eran poco cobdiciosos, y de honra muy ambiciosos.""* 
Clearly, Numancia represents a Utopia, in which the interests of the group and 
the individual coincide to create a self-sufficient community . As such, Numancia 
fulfills the Medieval ideal of the city-state (albeit stripped of its mercantilist 
dimension), which, "in a world that was very fragmented and dangerous, these 
havens of human intercourse, peaceful activities and relative abundance 
seemed models of *good government' [and] inspired the enthusiastic adher- 
ence of their citizens and inhabitants."^ 

In Guevara's account of the fall of the unified city, Scipio stands out 
against the backdrop of the Roman imperial army as a lone distinguished 
individual. Like the Roman historians, Guevara presents the commander as the 
catalyst for the dénouement of the decades-long standoff. He repeats the Latin 
reports of Scipio' s cleansing of the Roman encampment and restoration of 
military disciplines. But Guevara also emphasizes the military leader's refusal 
to engage the Numantians in open battle. Scipio repeatedly responds to pleas 
from both his own officers and the besieged inhabitants themselves that "[e]s 

30 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

tan fortunada Numancia . . . que se ha de acabar, mas no esperar que se ha de 
veneer."^ The Roman general recognizes the city as invincible, and chooses to 
fmish them off rather than defeat them, a decision which could appear rational 
in the light of the Numantians' success in earlier skirmishes with the Roman 
army. In an anecdote found to my knowledge only in Guevara's account, 
however, Scipio's stubborn refusal to quit the siege and return to Rome is 
explained by the prophesy of a necromancer: ". . . al salir de Roma le habîa 
dicho un sacerdote nigromântico que no desmayase ni se retirase de aquella 
conquista, dado caso que pasasen inmensos peligros en ella, porque los dioses 
tenian determinada que el fm de la fortunada Numancia habîa de ser el 
principio de toda su gloria."^ Thus, the community's defeat becomes inti- 
mately linked to the individual commander's glory. Numantian communal 
honor is to be sacrificed for Scipio's personal gain. 

The Roman's stubborn ambition for individual glory sets into motion the 
degradation of Numancia into cannibalism and homicide. Guevara does not 
flinch from repeating the ancient reports of cannibalism of Roman soldiers by 
the Celtiberians, but rather explains this "cosa monstruosa" as a result of the 
extreme hunger caused by the siege. Both the Numantians and Romans are 
subsequently dehumanized into predator and prey. 

Cosa monstruosa fué entonces de ver, como lo es agora de oir, que ansi 
andaban los numantinos cada dia a caça de romanos, como los caçadores a 
oxeo de conejos, y tan sin asco comian y bebian de la came y sangre de los • 
enemigos, como si fueran espaldas y lomos de cameros. Grandisimo era el 
dano que cada dia rescebia el consul Scipiôn en aquel cerco, porque los 
numantinos, allende de que como fieros animales andaban en los romanos 
encamiçados, peleaban ya, no como enemigos, sino como desesperados.* 

Scipio's obstinacy, then, causes the dehumanization of the proud Numantians, 
converted into desperate animals, and the destruction of his own troops, 
transformed into rabbits, the enemies ' fodder. The final plea for Scipio to desist 
comes from the Numantians, who beg for an honorable battle. Speaking as a 
group, they appeal to the Roman commander's thirst for glory, ". . . tapiamos 
como nos tienes tapiados no es mas de un buen ardid de guerra; mas si nos 
vencieses en batalla seria parati una inmortal gloria."^ Their collective suicide 
follows, a "cosa espantable," depriving Scipio of loot or prisoners. In a final 
statement Scipio, overwhelmed by sadness, repeats the fortune of Numancia 
— that it would be ended, but never defeated. 

Guevara's account of the historical event is, in fact, an exemplary tale of 
the destructive impact of greed, obstinacy, and envy, perceived as individual 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas I2>\ 

faults, on the honor of a community. Whereas the destruction of Numancia 
does earn glory for Scipio, it is a glory tainted by dishonor to Rome. According 
to Guevara, all the historians claim that Rome never suffered such an affront 
or lost so many troops as in the conquest of Numancia. The explanation 
provided for this dishonor is that "todas las otras guerras iban fiindadas sobre 
alguna injuria, excepto la de Numancia, que fué de pura envidia."^^ The envy 
to which Guevara refers, of course, is Scipio' s ambition for the fame and glory 
enjoyed by Numancia. As recounted by Guevara, the tale of the fall of 
Numancia becomes the story of the moral downfall of Scipio, and serves as a 
negative example of the destructive power of stubbornness and ambition for 
personal glory in a man of war. The reference to the dispute between the two 
nobles concerning the site of Numancia functions, then, as a frame for the 
moralizing tale, a technique common to Medieval prose, seen, for example, in 
Don Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor. Significantly, Guevara does not 
attribute the injustice suffered by the Celtiberians to Roman imperial interests, 
but personalizes the error in Scipio' s individual character flaws of obstinacy 
and envy.^' Nonetheless, he does highlight both the communal honor of 
Numancia and its final triumph, expressed ironically through Scipio, who 
acknowledges the community's invincibility. It is left to Ambrosio de Mo- 
rales, another court historian, to develop Numancia' s resistance into a tale 
illustrating Spanish national honor. 

Morales' Account: "Our" Numantians 

Although the story of Numancia had already appeared in Antonio Guevara's 
Epistolas familiares and was known to a more popular audience through 
romances, the account that appears to have been definitive for both Herrera and 
Cervantes comes from Ambrosio de Morales' continuation of the Coronica 
general de Espaha, an officially sanctioned history of Spain started by Florian 
Ocampo.'^ As such. Morales' presentation of the clash between the Romans 
and the Celtiberians at the end of the second century B.C. reflects many 
interests of sixteenth-century Hapsburg Spain, in particular those surrounding 
Iberian unification and imperial expansion. The sense of a Spanish pa/r/a that 
contributes to and is strengthened by these changes serves as a foundation for 
Morales' historiographical undertaking to continue Florian Ocampo's history 
of Spain. As José Antonio Maravall has shown, in the thirteenth century both 
Castilian and Aragonese historians began to conceive of Spain as "unaentidad 
humana asentada en un territorio que la define y caracteriza y a la cual le sucede 

32 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

algo en comùn, toda una historia propria."'^ Thus, the concept of Spain as the 
collective of Iberian inhabitants had already developed in the late Middle 
Ages. As John Elliott has observed, the use of the word patria became ever 
more widespread in the sixteenth century, promulgated by the humanistic 
study of Greece and Rome as political models, and a new interest in the 
historical heritage and legal constitutions of states which combined to foster 
a sense of a community broader than one's hometown."* Accordingly, in 
sixteenth-century Spain, Ambrosio de Morales could claim the Numantian 
episode as a founding moment in the history of his patria replete with the tones 
and weight of mythology. 

Morales' unquestioned identification of the Numantians as Spaniards is 
probably the most significant of his interpretive stances. The opening sentence 
of the eighth book of the history announces unequivocally that: "[l]lega ya aquf 
la Historia de Espafia a lo mas alto de gloria y fama que en estos tiempos pudo 
subir: pues se ha de comenzar a escribir la guerra de los Romanos con nuestros 
Numantinos. . ."'^ Temporal distance and cultural difference are obviated as 
Morales stakes claim to Numancia for his Spanish history. Nor should we 
suspect that Morales was unaware of the historical conflation he was undertak- 
ing in his identification of a Celtiberian city-state with the nation Spain, itself 
only bom at the end of the fifteenth century when Ferdinand and Isabella united 
their reigns and defeated the Moorish kingdom of Granada. The historian uses 
the terms "Celtiberia" and "Celtiberos" when he writes of other communities 
on the peninsula, but never with reference to Numancia. At times he does apply 
the term "Espanol" to these other towns and peoples, but always with his own 
concept of a generalized Spanish character in mind. For example, he contrasts 
the ingenuousness of Palencians, duped by enemy claims that their city had 
been overrun, with the deceitfulness of the Romans. ^^ Thus, Morales begins to 
compile a list of attributes of the Spanish character, in this case that of fatefully 
innocent sincerity, which are best exemplified by Numancia. 

This identification of the Spanish nation with the earlier inhabitants of 
Iberia, despite the complete discontinuity of religion, language, and society 
between the two cultures, should not be seen as either naive or manipulative. 
Rather, Morales bases this historical conflation on the medieval Latin concept 
of universitas, "a conjunct or collection in one body of a plurality of persons," 
that confer legislative power, imperium, on their government.'^ Universitas 
itself arose from the Roman legal concept of lex regia, which established "the 
imprescriptible right of the Roman people to confer the imperium and all power 
on the Prince." '^ The community existed legally as an entity which itself 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 33 

bestowed legitimacy on a given government, and persisted regardless of 
specific political affiliations in given historical epochs. In the Middle Ages 
jurists began to acknowledge the rex legia of various peoples since Rome itself 
had fallen, and thus the trans latio imperii became a legal reality. In turn, the 
community represented by universitas expanded temporally to include all 
inhabitants of a given place throughout time, in our case Iberia, and enjoyed 
the sempiternal quality of the Church and the Roman empire. According to 
Kantorowicz, this attribution of a timeless quality to a community creates a 
third, legally recognized being which, immaterial and unchanging, repre- 
sented the community through all time as a distinct species which expressed 
itself in the individual.*^ Thus, if one, like Morales, recognizes Spain as a 
sempiternal universitas, one can speak of hispanitas, or Spanishness, a 
character which is at once generic to all Spaniards and present in individuals. 

The Numantians, therefore, as members of the Spanish universitas, 
represent the Spanish character at its finest. According to Morales' represen- 
tation of the Numantians, hispanitas encompasses valor, competitiveness, and 
a fierce love of liberty. During a day of festivity before Scipio's siege, a 
Numantian father, "con respecto y pensamiento de verdadero Espanol y 
Numantino," demanded that two young men competing for his daughter bring 
back the right hand of a Roman to win hers.^^ The two young men, "encendidos 
con el amor y competencia," rushed out to do so, only to find that the Roman 
troops had already fled from fear by cover of night.^' Thus, a small domestic 
episode illustrates the essential qualities of "los nuestros" which made possible 
resistance against Rome. Nor is this essentially brave and fierce hispanitas 
restricted to the males. Writing of the Galician resistance to Junius Brutus, 
Morales notes that the women fought alongside the men, "[p] orque siempre el 
esfuerzo Espanol, no era solo de los hombres, sino que también se hallaba 
muestra notable de él en las mujeres."^^ The overriding character oi hispanitas 
erases any differentiation between private and public conduct, or the behavior 
of women and men. Morales points out that the "Portugueses de Braga" also 
brought their women to battle, who, when they were taken captive, killed 
themselves and their children, rather than see them taken captive.^^ A prec- 
edent was set for the infanticide practiced in Numancia as an expression of this 
love of liberty — and done so by Lusitanians, who are clearly perceived by 
Morales as part of the universitas in question.^"* The collective suicide of 
Numancia was not, then, an aberration, a transient madness, or a sin, but the 
fulfillment of Spanish character when faced by the loss of liberty. 

Nonetheless, hispanitas as conceived by Morales has a darker face which 

34 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

also contributes to the fall of Numancia — the love of contention and disunity. 
Morales asserts that not only did other Iberians fail to come to the aid of 
Numancia, but that many sent troops to the Romans, "[p] orque siempre parece 
que no podian ser vencidos los Espanoles, sin que Espanoles ayudasen a 
vencerlos/'^^ Writing of the betrayal of Malia by its own citizens to Pompey, 
the historian exclaims with a tone of exasperation: 

^C6mo habiamos de veneer los Espanoles a los Romanos, siendo nosotros 
mismos los que procurabamos nuestra destruicion? Nuestras discordias y 
particulares enemistades, y aquella inclinacion natural de todos los Espanoles 
a ver novedades, cansandose de estar siempre en un ser, aunque sea muy 
bueno, nos hacia la guerra, y nos quitaba de las manos la victoria de todos 
los Romanos, que sin duda la alcanzaramos con union y concordia.^^ 

The self-destruction of Numancia, abandoned by its fellow Iberi2ms, repre- 
sents in miniature the entire self-destruction of Hispania, fatally weakened by 
its own divisiveness. The ser, the timeless identity of the universitas, falls 
victim to the other side of its natural, as the individual Spaniards seek novelty 
and discord. Thus, Spain lost what would have been its finest prize, victory 
over the Romans. 

Central to Morales' daring assertion that the Iberians could have defeated 
the Roman armies of such superlative generals as Pompey and Scipio Africanus 
are accounts related by various ancient historians of the fear inspired by the 
Numantians among the Roman troops. Morales generally uses his ancient 
sources to reinforce his vision of the Spanish natural, the hispanitas. In this 
case, the classical writers attest to the great valor of the Spaniards as warriors, 
who instill fear in the Roman troops. He quotes Lucius Horns, who reported 
that there was no Roman soldier who dared to hope for victory upon hearing 
or seeing a Numantian. Without advising the reader of his ruse. Morales also 
elaborates upon the words of Paulus Orosius, who stated that no Roman soldier 
could stand firm, considering himself defeated if he saw an "Espanol.'*^^ That 
the Roman historians, clearly seen by Morales as involved in a nationalistic 
historiographical undertaking akin to his own, would denounce the cowardice 
of their own army to praise the bravery of their enemies is irrefutable proof of 
Numancia's glory and Spain's capacity for valor. 

Y Lucio Floro, historiador natural de Roma, acabando asi de contar el fin que 
tuvo esta inclita ciudad, la célébra tanto, que dice estas mismas palabras. Diô 
buen testimonio de la gloria y esclarecido valor de Numancia, y de su gran 
esfuerzo, y de su dichosisima suerte entre tantos maies y miserias, el haber 
mantenido tantos anos la fe con sus aliados, y el haber sufrido tanto tiempo, 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas I 35 

y resistido al Pueblo Romano, que guerreaba con las fuerzas de todo el 

Morales uses the Roman historian's words to provide a portrait of the most 
illustrious virtues of Spain as seen through the lens of Numancia — valor, 
strength, loyalty, perserverance despite suffering, and unending resistance to 
invasion. As Herrero Garcia has shown, many of these same characteristics, 
such as sobriety, valor, excellence, and mutual censure, became commonplaces 
of Spanish identity by the seventeenth century .^^ 

By the same token, an ancient source also verifies Spain's weakness, its 
tendency toward disunity. Morales ends his account of Numancia by citing the 
words of Strabon, who wrote with respect to the invasion of Iberia by the 
Carthaginians and Tyrians that the inhabitants would have been invincible, if 
they had been united among themselves in their defense. As Morales adds, 
"esto mismo que dice Strabon de estas dos naciones, se puede muy bien 
extender a la entrada de los Romanos en Espana."^^ Morales also quotes an 
anecdote reported by Paulus Orosius, which sums up best the moral of the story 
of Numancia within a sixteenth-century nationalistic history. An old man, 
when asked by Scipio about the Numantian's invincibility, responded: "Con 
la Concordia se mantuvo, y con la discordia perecio. Que tanto como esto puede 
destruiry asolarunadesconformidad."^' Morales has, however, put words into 
the fourth-century historian's mouth, who stated simply: "Concordia invicta, 
discordia exitio fuit." Paulus Orosius then proceeded to note that the Romans 
took this as an example of what was taking place in their own city at the time 
due to the Gracchian insurrection.^^ Morales uses a similar tactic, of course, as 
one can easily infer that the dictum applies equally well to sixteenth-century 
Spain, but he voices his elaboration on the destructive power of disunity 
through the more authoritative mouth of an ancient source. Morales' two acts 
of "extending" the didactic message concerning Spain's vulnerability due to 
divisiveness, the one stated as he applies Strabon' s words to the Roman 
invasion, the other fudged as he speaks through Paulus Orosius, surely invite 
the sixteenth-century reader to appreciate the unification of Spain achieved by 
Ferdinand and Isabella.^^ 

Herrera's Numancia: The Defense of Spanish Culture 

The concept of a Spanish universitas and a subsequent hispanitas revealed in 
Morales' account of the fall of Numancia enters into the defense of sixteenth- 
century Spanish poetry and culture contained within the poet Herrera's 

36 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

commentaries on the works of Garcilaso de la Vega. In a gloss to a description 
of an "osado espafiol y sobrado," who demands battle against the Turks 
(Eglogue II, V. 1539-1540), Herrera states that he wishes to digress here upon 
the ancient custom of the Italians, "inherited from the Romans," of vituperat- 
ing against Spaniards.^'* The poet's rage springs from the disparaging com- 
ments on Spanish culture made by Italians such as Bembo, Sabélico and the 
Marquis of Pescara. For Herrera, the dispute reeks of a family feud. ''iQué 
razon permite que llamen Bembo y Sabélico bârbaros a los espanoles, siendo 
de una religion, de unas letras y casi de una lengua?"^^ Herrera, of course, puts 
forth the proposition that "nunca faltan ni faltaron en Espana hombres doctos 
y de singular erudicion y elocuencia por todas las edades."^^ Nonetheless, in 
the very next sentence he begins to proclaim his nation's military glory. Thus, 
the poet enters into a very long digression composed of rhetorical questions 
championing the cause of Spain by highlighting the nation's heroes and 
valorous achievements. 

Implicit in Herrera' s harangue is the identification of Italy with Rome as 
one universitas and Spain with Roman Iberia as another. His complaint against 
Italy rests largely on the occupation of Iberia by Rome, which he perceives to 
have been of particular disadvantage to the peninsula since no other province 
gave so many riches and great men to the empire and received so little 
recognition.^^ Of course, Numancia serves as the example par excellence of the 
mistreatment of these early Spaniards, an example which was recorded by the 
historians. Herrera describes the inferiority of the city, unprotected by walls 
and towers, small in size and numbers, and thus emphasizes the glory of their 
resistance. He echoes the words of Scipio in Guevara's account as he proclaims 
that the city succeeded: "[n]o fue vencida Numancia, sino muerta; no rota, sino 
acabada."^^ Whereas Scipio, the victor over Carthage, cannot overcome 
Numancia, hunger, steel, poison, fire, and their own hands do, "sin que bastase 
fuerza contraria para presumir esta honra."^^ Significantly, Herrera perceives 
the collective suicide of Numancia as an act which protects the city's honor, 
for he himself uses the case to defend the honor of Spanish culture. 

Thus, the valor of the Celtiberians, lauded at the beginning of the outburst, 
is proof of Spanish bravery equal to that of Cortes, el Duque de Alba, and the 
other military leaders of the sixteenth century with whose examples Herrera 
concludes his argument. In his descriptions of the various heroes of Christian 
times, Herrera couples valor with faith and piety, as he praises the "valor. . ., 
fe y piedad" of Teodosius, the "fortaleza y piedad" of Conde Femân Gonzalez, 
and the "ânimo y fe" of Don Diego Ordonez."^ The Spanish hispanitas expands 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 37 

to combine valor with religious fervor and constancy. In this manner, Herrera' s 
defense of his nation, which he concludes with the rather grudging admission 
that Spain has not lacked heroes, but writers to memorialize them, demon- 
strates how the Numancia account operates within the sixteenth-century 
conception of Spain as the defender of Catholic orthodoxy and an imperial 
power. The city that chose suicide rather than enslavement represents the 
fierce, uncompromising strength of warriors, defeated ultimately not by the 
enemy but by their fellow Iberians' s inability to join forces with them. 
"^Pudiera Roma domar las rebeldes cervices de aquellos antiguos espanoles, 
horridos y féroces en la guerra, si quisieran conservar su libertad juntamente?'"*^ 
Now that the same ferocity is wed to piety and the peninsula is reunited, great 
things await the empire, already signalled for Herrera by the conquest of the 
Americas and the war with France. The poet Herrera joins in the imperial 
enterprise through his participation in the belated passing of letters, translatio 
studii, to the peninsula. As he concludes his revindication of his nation, in itself 
a miniature history of Spain, he writes: "[p]ues sabemos que no faltaron a 
Espana en algun tiempo varones heroicos; faltaron escritores cuerdos y sabios 
que los dedicasen con inmortal estilo a la etemidad de la memoria.'"*^ 

Cervantes' Numancia: The interplay of Justice and Honor 

Cervantes' early play La Numancia (ca. 1581-1585) commemorates in litera- 
ture such national heroes, yet by so doing also demonstrates the difficult 
compromises with the actual material of the incident made by those who use 
the episode as an example of hispanitas. Critics have struggled with the 
obvious praise of the Spanish Hapsburg empire. J. B. Avalle-Arce argues that 
the play represents renovatio imperii, the renewal of the Roman empire, in 
sixteenth-century Spain through the subjugation of Rome.'*^ On the other hand, 
Stanislav Zimic contends that the play rejects the Roman model as evil in favor 
of a new concept of empire based on concord and peace ."^ Marie Laffranque, 
in contrast, has argued that the sixteenth-century public, as well as Cervantes 
himself, would have identified with both the Romans and the Numantians.^^ 
Turning now to Cervantes' La Numancia, I seek to show that the play reveals 
the contradictions inherent within the conceptual relationship between Rome 
and Numancia from the perspective of sixteenth-century Spain that complicate 
such issues as the transferral and imitation of the Roman empire. 

As Ramon Menéndez Pidal observes, the Roman empire did serve as the 
model for the ideal society in early modern Europe. "Hacer de todos los 

38 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

hombres una familia, unidos por los dios, por la cultura, por el comercio, por 
los matrimonios y la sangre, fué la gran mision del imperio romano, ensalzada 
por los paganos desde Plinio hasta Galo Namaciano y por los cristianos a partir 
de los espanoles Prudencio y Orosio y del africano San Agustin.""*^ Thus, the 
leaders of Hapsburg Spain, including both Charles V and Philip II, saw 
themselves as the new emperors. As Laffranque has noted, the Hapsburgs 
themselves encouraged their subjects to draw the parallel between their house 
and the emperors of Rome, as seen in the iconography of their residence in 
Innsbruck/^ Nevertheless, their concept of empire, as expressed by such 
advisors as Mota, was transformed by the Medieval understanding of universitas 
cristiana, a transcendent community which encompasses all of Christianity 
and forms the basis for the Holy Roman Empire/^ Spain's relationship to 
Rome became essentially ambivalent — on the one hand, Roman political 
values were to be imitated, but, on the other hand, transformed by Christian 
values and used to further the divine empire on earth. 

Cervantes captures this ambivalence in his Numancia in an unwillingness 
to depict either the Romans or the Iberians as morally good or evil."*^ Scipio is 
an ambivalent character, as seen from Orosius on, for he embodies the values 
of the good soldier and leader in spite of his hard indifference to the pleas of 
the trapped Numantians.^" Cervantes' characterization of the Roman as a 
fierce, unyielding warrior parallels the image of hispanitas epitomized by the 
Numantians, in which the honor of the patria is proved by valorous action 
(1.65-80).^^ At the beginning of the play, Scipio' s ire against the Numantians 
is fueled not by personal ambition, as in the case of Guevara's Scipio, but rather 
by the same ambition motivating the Celtiberians, the desire to protect the 
name and fame of the patria. As he harangues his troops, "^Paréceos, hijos, que 
es gentil hazana/que tiemble del romano nombre el mundo/y que vosotros 
solos en Espaiia/le aniquiléis y echéis en el profundo?" (1.81-84). Scipio 
repeatedly links Roman national honor to deeds of war and the respected name 
of the empire, thus setting a standard for the good soldier, disinterested in 
personal gain, that he himself represents in Cervantes' play as a model leader. 
The Numantians demonstrate a parallel sense of communal honor in their own 
dedication to the invincible name of their community, and are praised reluc- 
tantly at the end by the Roman for their exemplification of the classical dictum, 
pro patria mori. The Roman invader cannot be simply viewed as evil, for his 
values have passed on, slightly transformed, to become the foundation for the 
emergent European nationalisms. Indeed, his empire has passed to the con- 
quered land now turned conqueror. 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 39 

By the same token, the Numantians, although epitomizing the values of 
love of nation and bravery, are not exemplars of Christian virtues, but rather 
Roman Stoic virtues." To commit suicide in order to escape from slavery as 
a prisoner of war, viewed positively by the Romans, was roundly condemned 
by saint Augustine, who proposes as a classical example of virtue the defeated 
military hero Regulus, who allowed himself to be humbled as a captive.^^ 
Christian narrators of the tale were thus forced to recast Numancia's self- 
destruction within a religious paradigm in order to "purify" the act. Augus- 
tine's disciple, Paulus Orosius, attempted to purify his praise of the Numantians 
by endowing them with the Christian virtues of faith and justice perceived as 
mercy, as well as strength, from whom the Romans could have learned a 
lesson.^"^ The key episode for this interpretation of the encounter between the 
Romans and the Numantians concerns Mancinus, a Roman captain who had 
agreed to a secret peace pact with the Numantians, only to be left naked outside 
the gates of the enemy city as punishment decreed by the Roman Senate for 
having agreed to a dishonorable treaty. Morales quotes the ancient account: 
"Habiase de hacer prueba de misericordia: harto buen testimonio dieron los 
Numantinos de ella, dando primero la vida a todo el ejército de sus enemigos, 
y después no executando en Mancino la pena, a que aun los suyos le 
condenaban."^^ Cervantes omits the incident, perhaps in favor of a more 
unified temporal structure for his play, but in so doing sacrifices proof of the 
Numantian misericordia. 

Cervantes, on the other hand, focuses on the dismemberment of the 
corporate body of Spain instead of the preservation of the individual body of 
Mancinus in an effort to present the episode within the conceptual framework 
of justice rather than mercy. Elements of Guevara's and Morales' representa- 
tions of the fall of the Celtiberian city enter into Cervantes' drama to indict 
Scipio for his stubborn refusal to respond to the Numantian pleas for honorable 
battle and the Iberians for their disunity. Despite his positive portrayal of 
Scipio as the valorous and disciplined warrior defending his patria, Cervantes 
does share with Guevara his vision of the military commander's unseemly 
obstinacy. In the first act Scipio rejects the Numantian' s offer of peace to him 
in recognition of his warrior virtues as an act of arrogance. In the second act 
he rejects their offer for open battle in an exchange that echoes Guevara's 
characterization of the Celtiberians as desperate animals and the Roman troops 
as their prey. After his troops continue to suffer losses, Scipio turns his rage 
against the enemy, dehumanizing the Numantians into wild beasts: "Bestias 
sois, y por tales encerradas/os tengo donde habéis de ser domadas" (11. 1191- 

40 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

2). In response, the Numantian spokesman denounces the Romans as "cobardes" 
(n.l206) and "liebres en pieles fieras disfrazados" (11.1229). 

The dehumanization of Numancia parallels the dismemberment of Spain 
personified as the matria. Appearing at the end of the first act crowned with 
towers and carrying a castle in her hand, she is the figure of Spain conflated 
with Castilla, reciting her sad history of disembowelment by the Phoenicians 
and Greeks in search of her riches (1.361-368).^^ Her occupation by the 
Romans is itself the result of the disunity of her own people: "Y ansi con sus 
discordias convidaron/los barbaros de pechos codiciosos/a venir a entregarse 
en mis riquezas,/usando en mi y en ellos mil cruezas" (1.381-384). Thus, 
Cervantes incorporates the universitas linking Numantia to Hapsburgian 
Spain already seen in Morales' account, and inflicts upon her maternal body 
the wounds of division. As in Morales' tale, the ultimate cause of the self- 
destruction of Numancia lies with Spain itself, having laid the motherland open 
to invasion because of the discord between its own members. The individual 
culpability of the warrior Scipio cedes before the communal fault of Iberia 
understood as the Spanish universitas. 

With a twist of dramatic justice, the case for the rectification of the 
Numantian' s self-destruction and the restoration of the matria' s honor rests 
with the sixteenth-century Spaniards. The river Duero, a male personification, 
responds to her cries, addressing her as "Madre querida, Espana" (1.441), and 
prophesying the triumphs to come. Embodying Christian misericordia,. six- 
teenth-century Spaniards will exercise mercy toward Rome, as Charles V's 
imperial troop spare the ancient city ' s inhabitants in the sack of Rome of 1 527: 
"y también vendra tiempo en que se mire/estar blandiendo el espanol cuchillo/ 
sobre el cuello romano, y que respire/solo por la bondad de su caudillo" (1.489- 
492). Accordingly, the Hapsburg empire does not only enjoy the turn of fortune 
foreseen by the Duero, in which the vanquished will be victors, but also earns 
the translatio imperii through its Christian conduct of empire. Thus, virtue 
counterbadances destiny, and casts a Christian teleology onto the transfer of 
imperial power to Spain. By the same token, she herself will be made whole 
again. The Duero prophesies both the christianization of Sp2dn through the 
forced conversion of Moors and Jews and expulsion of resisters by Ferdinand 
and Isabella (1.503), and the unification of Portugal with Spain in 1580 by 
Philip II (1.517-520). Spain, significantly conceived of here as matria, will 
once again enjoy honor as a whole and united Christian universitas. 

The conflation of national honor with personal honor manifested in the 
figure of Spain as a violated woman represents the merging of individual with 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas / 41 

communal interests, the conflict at the base of sixteenth-century Spanish 
accounts of Scipio' s siege of Numancia. The only moral code that would allow 
the suicide and fratricide of the city other than the concept oïpro patria mori 
is the honor code, so predominant in the comedia. Unlike the historians, who 
view the willingness of the women to die as either evidence of their love of 
country or their love for their husbands, Cervantes presents their pleas for 
death as attempts to avoid dishonor through being raped upon capture (11. 1 293- 
1302). Teogenes consecrates his act of infanticide by calling on the spilled 
blood of honor (III.2 140-2 143). And so the blood of families spilt by fathers 
and husbands to protect personal honor replaces the blood of soldiers to be 
spared by Scipio on the battlefield in defense of the national honor. By the same 
token, Cervantes figures the universitas Spain as the raped woman, invaded 
and dishonored by the many barbarians, taking advantage of the disunity 
between her children. Thus, private and public honor intersect in Cervantes' 
version of the fall of Numancia. Like Guevara's account, Cervantes' play 
highlights the destructive power of individual interest in contrast to the 
strength of the community. Like Morales, he reinforces the sixteenth-century 
conception of unyielding hispanitas weakened only by internal division. Just 
as Herrera ends his discussion of the Numancia episode with a cry for writers 
and artists to defend the national honor, Cervantes ends his play with the heroic 
cry of the small boy Bariato, dying for the patria. Yet, in the figure of the 
dishonored matria, the play also renders ambiguous the relationship of Spain 
to Rome as the inheritor of its oppressor's imperial ambitions and ideology. 

University of Calgary 


1. J. M. Blazquez and A. Tovar, Historia de la Espana romana (Madrid: Alianza, 1982) pp. 

2. For a discussion of the Catholic appropriation of the classical dictum pro patria mori to the 
work of Christian martyrdom, which kept the value alive in the Middle Ages to be reasserted 
in terms of the state by Renaissance humanists, see Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King 's Two 
Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1957), pp. 232-249. 

3. Antonio de Guevara, Libro primero de las epistolas familiares, ed. José Maria de Cossfo 
(Madrid: Biblioteca Selecta de Clâsicos Espanoles, 1952) p. 38. 

4. Ibid., p. 41. 

5. Yves-Marie Bercé, Revolt and Revolution in Early Modem Europe: An Essay on the History 
of Political Violence, trans. Joseph Bergin (New York: St. Martin's E^ess, 1987), p. 39. 

42 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

6. Guevara, p. 43. 

7. Ibid., pp. 44-45. 

8. Ibid., p. U. 

9. Ibid., p. 45. 

10. Ibid., p. 47. 

11. In a well-known excerpt from his work Libro dureo de Marco Aurelio (published in pirate 
editions in 1528), "El villano del Danubio," Guevara does criticize the Roman empire 
through the mouthpiece of a German peasant for having greedily stolen the goods of others, 
and hypocritically asserting that these conquered peoples needed the Roman rule of 
civilization (Biblioteca de autores espanoles. Vol. 65. Madrid: Atlas, 1953) pp. 160-166. 
This same sage predicts that the gods will eventually turn the tables on the Romans, who will 
then suffer for their unjust deeds (162). Nonetheless, Guevara does not articulate the just 
reversal of Rome's fortune in the sixteenth century when faced by Spanish troops in his 
account of the Numancia episode. 

1 2. Helmut Koenigsberger has described Ocampo' s narration of the history of Celtiberian Spain 
as "a nationalistic historical fantasy" in his article "Spain," in National Consciousness, 
History, and Political Culture in Early-Modem Europe, ed. Orest Ranum (Baltimore: Johns 
Hopkins University Press, 1975), pp. 144-172). 

13. José Antonio Maravall, El concepto de Espaha en la Edad Media, 2d. ed. (Madrid: Instituto 
de Estudios Politicos, 1964), p. 48. 

14. J. H. Elliott, Spain and Its World 1500- 1 700. Selected Essays, (New Haven: Yale University 
Press, 1989), pp. 103-106. As he describes the community understood as the patria, it "was 
founded on history, law and achievement, on the sharing of certain common experiences and 
certain common patterns of life and behaviour. As such, it was an ideal — indeed an 
idealized — entity, already perfect in itself . . . The highest obligation incumbent upon its 
members was ... to ensure that in due course it should be transmitted intact to their 
successors" (p. 106). 

15. Ambrosio de Morales, Coronica general de Espana, vol. 4, (Madrid: 1791), p. 1. 

17. Kantorowicz, p. 304. 

\S. Ibid, p. 294. 

19. "For between the generic communitas or universitas on the one hand, and the individual and 
material community of Bologna composed of mutable citizens and perishable buildings on 
the other hand, an entity which was immaterial and invariable, though not devoid of 
individuation, which existed (as it were) in some perpetual aevum, and which appropriately 
might have been called Bononitas or 'Bolognity ,' had the lawyers not preferred to talk about 
the corporate universitas — that is, the juristic person or personified community — of 
Bologna. Nevertheless, that corporate, if incorporeal, Bononitas represented, like the 
angels, species and individuation at the same time" {Ibid., p. 303). 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 43 

20. Morales, p. 13. 

21. Ibid.,^. 14. 

22. Ibid., p. 20. 
23. /^fW.,p21. 

24. The unification of Portugal with Spain had been a continuous goal of the Hapsburgs 
throughout the century (see Manuel Fernandez Alvarez, Politica mundial de Carlos V y 
Felipe II (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificos, 1966), pp. 252-253. 
Precedence for the self-destruction of an entire city is also set by the Vaceos, as mentioned 
briefly by Livy, which Morales describes as yet another "brava hazana, de las que (como 
muchas veces en esta historia hemos visto) usaban los Espanoles en sus desesperaciones" 

25. Morales, p. 39. 

26. Ibid, p. 7. 

27. "Lucio Floro dice que no habia soldado Romano que osase esperar, en oyendo una voz de 
un Numantino, o en viéndole venir. Paulo Orosio cuenta, que estaba la fuerza Romana tan 
embotada, que no sabia soldado ninguno, afirmar los pies para no huir, ni asegurar el ânimo 
para esperar. Luego que vefa el Romano al Espanol, se tenia por vencido, y en solo huir le 
parecia que estaba su remedio: que estas son las palabras de aquel autor" (Morales, p. 27). 
It is important to note that Morales has elaborated upon Paulus Orosius' quote, which itself 
reads simply: "namque ubi copia pugnandi facta est, exercitus Romanus oppressus impetu 
Numantinorum terga conuertit" {Historiarum adversum paganos libri septem. In Paulo 
Orosio: su vida y sus obras, éd. Casimiro Torres Rodriguez (Santiago de Compostela: 
Fundaciôn Pedro Barrie de la Maza Conde de Fenosa, 1985), p. 412. 

28. Morales, p. 45. 

29. Miguel Herrero Garcia, Ideas de los espanoles delsiglo XVII, (Madrid: Gredos, 1966), pp. 
59-66, 95-96. 

30. Morales, p. 49. 

31. Ibid, p. 4S. 

32. Torres Rodriguez, p. 416. 

33. The unification of the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon and the forced conversion of Jews 
and Moslems that formed the basis of the creation of a Spanish nation by Ferdinand and 
Isabella did not meet with universal approval or take place peacefully. Most salient are the 
Comunero uprisings in Castille in the 1 520s and the various Morisco revolts. For an analysis 
that sees as a subtext for Cervantes' Numancia the siege of the Moriscos in Alpujarras by 
Don Juan de Austria (1570), see Alfredo Hermenegildo, La Numancia de Cervantes 
(Madrid: Biblioteca de Critica Literaria, 1976), pp. 46-74. 

34. Herrera himself admits that his tirade against the Italians is a digression. "Quiero discurrir 
aqui un poco, apârtandome del intento, pues se haofrecido ocasiôn. Porque no se que ànimos 
se puedan hallar tan pacientes que toleren los oprobios y denuestos con que vituperan a los 

44 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

espanoles los escritores de Italia. Antigua costumbre es suya, y heredada de los romanos, 
alabarcon grandes exceso las haza±as de su gente . . ." (Fernando de Herrera, "Comentarios 
de Fernando de Herrera" in Garcilaso y sus comentaristas, ed. Antonio Gallego Morell 
(Madrid: Credos, 1972, p. 552). 

35. Herrera, p. 552. 

36. Ibid., pp. 552-553. 

37. "Y asi volveré de principio a la antigua queja que tiene Espana, no comun a la queja de las 
otras provincias sujetas al imperio de Roma, porque ninguna fue mas tratada y conocida, 
ninguna mas ocupada en la milica romana, ninguna mas provechosa, o en riquezas, o en 
hombres belicosos y ejercitados en la guerra, y ninguna (si conviene decirse asQ mas 
ignorada de los historiadores romanos, que pasan sus hechos en tanto silencio que parece 
que nunca tuvieron noticia de ella, o que nunca cri6 ânimos valerosos y merecedores de 
gloria" (Herrera, p. 553). 

38. Herrera, p. 553. 
39. /^it/., pp. 553-554. 

40. Ibid., p. 554. 

41. Ibid., p. 553. 

42. Ibid, p. 555. 

43. J. B. Avalle-Arce, Nuevos deslindes cervantinos (Barcelona: Ariel, 1975), pp. 249-256. 
Quotes from the play come from Miguel de Saavedra Cervantes, "La Numancia." Diez 
Comedias del Sigh de Oro, eds. José Martel and Hymen Alpem, 2d. ed. (Prospect Heights, 
IL: Waveland Press, 1968). 

44. Stanislav Zimic, "Vision politica y moral de Cervantes en 'Numancia,' "Amzfe5 cervantinos, 1 8 
(1979-80), 107-150. 

45. Marie Laffranque, "De l'histoire au mythe: à propos du 'siège de Numance' de Cervantes," 
Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Étranger, 92 (1967), p. 284. 

46. Ramôn Menéndez Pidal, Idea imperial de Carlos V, 5th ed. (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1963), 
p. 12. 

47. Laffranque, p. 278. 

48. Menéndez Pidal, pp. 18, 28-29. 

49. As Joaquin Casalduero {Sentido y forma del teatro de Cervantes, Madrid: Credos, 1967, 
p. 281) and Edward H. Friedman {The Unifying Concept: Approaches to the Structures of 
Cervantes' Comedias (York, SC: Spanish Literature Publications, 1981, p. 58) have 
observed, the tale centers around pagan values such as fame and resolves the issue of the 
pagan practices by neutralizing their representation with the thematic presentation of the 
Christian concept of life in death. I do not believe that the pre-Christian setting or the 
possible thematic content frees the playwright or the public from wrestling with such loaded 
moral issues as suicide and lack of mercy, not to mention the more lurid depictions of 
communication with the dead, invocation of spirits, and references to cannibalism. 

Rachel Schmidt / The Development of Hispanitas 1 45 

50. As Angelo J. DiSalvo points out, Don Quijote in his instructions to Sancho Panza concerning 
just government warns against corruption and self-interest (p. 55), and asserts that the role 
of the soldier is more important than that of the man of the letters in preserving the peace 
(p. 56), yet also recommends "the tempering of justice with compassion" ("Spanish Guide 
to Princes and the Political Theories in Don Quijote," Cervantes, 9: 1 (Spring 1989), pp. 54- 
56). Although it is always dangerous to consider Don Quijote' s words an expression of 
Cervantes' thought, this description of the good and bad behavior in the man of war does 
ahgn with the ambivalent character of Scipio, who is uncorrupted and selfless in his service 
to Rome, but also fails to act compassionately. According to Laffranque, the traditionally 
positive view of Scipio as a disinterested commander originates in particular with Polybius 
(pp. 276-7), whose work on military strategy served as textbooks for Renaissance officers 
(p. 283). 

5 1 . Jean Canavaggio has argued successfully that Cervantes has drawn most of his material for 
the play from Morales' s account due to the coincidence of episodes (p. 40) and the 
inaccessibility of these episodes from the ancient sources in the vernacular in the sixteenth- 
century. Cf Cervantes dramaturge: un théâtre à naître, (Paris: Presses Universitaires de 
France, 1977), pp. 40, 77). As Hermenegildo points out (p. 29), I also believe that Cervantes 
had read Guevara's account. 

52. Avalle-Arce, p. 104. 

53. Augustine, The City of God, Trans. Marcus Dods (New York: Hafner, 1948), p. 35. 

54. Paulus Orosius, pp. 406-407. 

55. "Y pregunto yo a los Romanos: ^por que entregaron asi a Mancino: pues que estando el 
exército todo a punto de ser muerto sin remedio, el le diô la vida con los conciertos de buena 
confederaciôn, y sacô a salvo tantos millares de Romanos: y estando todas las fuerzas de su 
tierra en pehgro de ser destruidas, las conservé enteras para tiempo de mejor oportunidad?" 
(Paulus Orosius, p. 25) Thus, Paulus Orosius continues his rhetorical interrogation of the 
Romans. As a follower of Augustine, Paulus Orosius' s entire Historiarum adversum 
paganos libri septem represents a defense of Christianity from the detractors who blamed 
it for weakening the Roman empire, leading to the barbarian invasions. His rhetorical stance, 
then, is to show how the Roman empire was weakened by its own pagan values (p. 63). Thus, 
the virtue of the Numantians stands in contrast to the hard-hearted cruelty of the Romans. 

56. Although it would be impossible to sustain that Cervantes himself was aware of the irony, 
the identity of Spain as Castille in the allegorical figure highlights the fictive character of 
the universitas as an entity immaterial and sempiternal but legally real based on the notion 
of the "perpetual 'identity despite change' of a community" (Kantorowicz, p. 302). Since 
the Iberia this figure purports to depict was and is varied and discontinuous, the creator of 
the figure is forced to choose one image, in this case that of the currently dominant Castille. 
Perhaps discord and division within an universitas are inevitable because that entity 
purports to stand for varied communities. 

Silvestro da Prierio and the 
Pomponazzi Affair 


Summary: The Italian Dominican friar Silvestro Mazzolini da Prierio (1456- 
1527), known as Prierias, served as Master of the Sacred Palace during the 
pontificates of Leo X, Adrian Viand Clement VIL He is chiefly rememberedfor 
his involvement in the cases of Luther and Reuchlin and an epistolary 
exchange with Erasmus. In this paper it is argued that he also played an 
important role in the Pomponazzi affair. Furthermore, Prierias ' intervention 
largely explains Bartolomeo Spina's own polemics against both Pomponazzi 
and Cajetan. 

The sequence of events which constituted the famous "Pomponazzi Affair" 
is well known. ^ On the 19th of December 1513, the fifth Lateran Council 
issued a decree condemning the Averroistic interpretation of Aristotle's De 
anima which had affirmed the unicity of the human intellect (both passive and 
active) and the mortality of the individual human soul. The decree also 
prescribed that thereafter even teachers of philosophy who dealt with the 
matter were bound to present and defend the traditional Christian doctrine. It 
was because of the latter proviso that Thomas de Vio Cajetan, at the time not 
yet a cardinal but attending the Council as Dominican Master General, voted 
against the decree. Cajetan believed that this ordination blurred the distinction 
between philosophy and theology and threatened the autonomy proper to the 
natural philosopher. 

In 1516 Pietro Pomponazzi, a professor of philosophy in the Faculty of 
Arts of the University of Bologna, published a treatise entitled De immortalitate 
animae. Pomponazzi claimed that the composition of this work was provoked 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 2 (1995) I Al 

48 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

by the question of whether the position of saint Thomas on the immortality of 
the soul corresponded to that of Aristotle. This question seems to have been 
posed to him by one of his students, the Dominican friar Girolamo Natali da 
Ragusa. In his treatise Pomponazzi followed the position of Alexander of 
Aphrodisias and argued that the authentic teaching of Aristotle was that the 
individual human soul is of its essential nature mortal. Pomponazzi was 
immediately attacked for holding this position by several philosophers and 
theologians including Ambrogio Fiandino and Gaspare Contarini. He was 
attacked as well by Vincenzo Colzado da Vicenza, to mention just one of the 
several Dominicans who entered the fray in its early stages. Pomponazzi 
responded to these attacks by composing in 1 5 17 and publishing early in 1 5 1 8 
a further tract entitled Apologia. At this point and possibly at the request of Leo 
X, the famous Agostino Nifo intervened and composed the de immortalitate 
animae lihellus. Pomponazzi sought to reply to Nifo' s attack by writing a third 
treatise, the Defensorium. 

On the 1 3th of June 1518 Leo X demanded a retraction from Pomponazzi, 
but nothing came of this because of a swift intervention in Pomponazzi' s 
favour by Cardinal Pietro Bembo. Nonetheless, when a little later Pomponazzi 
tried to publish the Defensorium the Inquisitor in Bologna refused permission 
since the work was not accompanied by the refutation of mortality required by 
the ordinations of the Fifth Lateran Council. But it seems that Pomponazzi was 
either unwilling or simply felt unable, if he were to remain coherent, to write 
such a refutation himself. Instead Pomponazzi chose to write a highly compli- 
mentary letter to Crisostomo lavelli da Casale, the regent master of the 
Dominican studium générale in Bologna, asking him to write an appropriate 
theological refutation of his position which could complement the text of the 
Defensorium and thereby render possible its publication. lavelli replied to 
Pomponazzi with a letter accepting the task, and in his Solutiones he published 
a concise, point by point refutation of Pomponazzi' s position. This arrange- 
ment seems to have satisfied Church authorities. Vovcv^on^zTÏ s Defensorium 
was published together with the Solutiones in 1519 and again in 1525. 

lavelli later published two further works in which he dealt with the matter 
of the immortality of the soul. In 1534, he published the Quaestiones in III De 
anima and in 1536 the Indeficientia animae humanae. In the second of these 
works lavelli gave an account of the entire affair, reproducing Pomponazzi' s 
letter to him and indeed recapitulating the entire Renaissance debate on the 
complex question of the immortality of the soul. He also examined the 
controversial interpretations of the Aristotelian text which had been proposed. 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 49 

In both works lavelli did not hesitate to criticize Cajetan and to identify him 
as the ultimate source of the errors of Pomponazzi. lavelli pointed out that 
Cajetan had himself argued, in his commentary on Aristotle's De anima 
completed in 1509 and published in 1510, that Aristotle had not taught the 
doctrine of the immortality of the soul. 


lavelli was not the first to link Pomponazzi and Cajetan and to impute to 
Cajetan the responsibility for the supposed errors of Pomponazzi. This had 
already been done openly by another Dominican, Bartolomeo Spina da Pisa. 
His attack on both Cajetan and Pomponazzi took the form of three tracts written 
during the second half of 1 5 1 8 : the PropugnaculumAristotelis de immortalitate 
animae contra Thomam Caietanum, a critique of Cajetan' s conmientary on 
Aristotle's De anima; the Tutela veritatis de immortalitatis animae contra 
Petrum Pomponatium mantuanus, directed against Pomponazzi' s De 
immortalitate animae; and the Flagellum in Apologiam Paretti, a response to 
Pomponazzi' s Apo/og/a.^ 

What motivated Spina' s attack against both Cajetan and Pomponazzi? 
Scholars who have dealt with this question have hitherto answered it in terms 
of vague references to either Spina's conservative and reactionary tempera- 
ment or his aggressive and mischievous personality. Gilson, while not propos- 
ing an alternative explanation, has added a word of caution: "Nous sommes 
trop loin des événements pour juger en connaissance de cause."^ 

Spina himself justified his attack by vaunting his love for truth and 
expressing a concern for those who were likely to be harmed by the pernicious 
theses advocated by his two antagonists. He also protested his extreme 
reluctance at attacking Cajetan whom he had praised less than a year earlier in 
the preface to his 1517 edition of Cajetan' s commentary on Aquinas' Summa 
Theologiae, Ila-IIae. 

Spina's attack against Cajetan provoked an immediate reaction from his 
religious superiors. Though written in 1518, Spina's three tracts were only 
finally printed on the 10th of September 1519. A little less than two months 
later, on the 24th of October 1519, Francesco Silvestri da Ferrara, who was then 
Vicar General of the Observant Congregation of Lombardy of which Spina 
was a member, sharply reprimanded him for having written against Cajetan 
and for having published his tracts without first obtaining his permission. The 
copies of Spina's publication were confiscated."* 

50 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

But it was not Spina's argument against Cajetan that Spina's superior 
found objectionable. After all, Francesco Silvestri himself had criticized the 
position of Cajetan in his Commentaria on aquinas' Summa contra Gentiles 
published only In 1524, but already completed by 1517. But he had done so 
in a courteous manner, never naming Cajetan and employing the conventional 
formula "nonnulli Thomistae."^ It was the personal and bellicose nature of 
Spina's attack on cajetan that Francesco Silvestri seems to have deemed 

Nonetheless, even in the short run, the incident did no harm whatsoever 
to Spina's further career. He continued as conventual lector in the convent of 
San Domenico in Modena and as vicar of the Inquisitor in Modena and Ferrara, 
Antonio Beccari da Ferrara. Not long afterwards he was appointed bachelor of 
the Sentences for the academic years 1524-1525 and 1525-1526 in the 
Dominican studium générale in Bologna. In the academic years 1530-1531 
and 1532=1533, he served as regent master while spending the intervening 
year as assistant to the Dominican Master General Paolo Butigella. Later he 
held the titular office of Provincial of the Holy Land, and from 1536 he filled 
the chair of theology in via Thomae in the University of Padua. In 1545 he was 
appointed Master of the Sacred Palace by Paul IE. At the time of his death in 
1546 Spina enjoyed a considerable reputation as a theologian and was one of 
the major personages of the opening session of the Council of Trent. 

But Spina's spectacular later career must not make us lose sight of his 
modest status when he first launched his polemics against Cajetan and 
Pomponazzi in 1 5 1 8 . At the time Spina held only the minor post of conventual 
lector in the convent of San Domenico di Castello in Venice and did not even 
have a university degree in theology. He was not a particularly significant 
person nor could he have possibly believed that he could directly attack 
Cajetan with impunity on the basis of his own standing. In addition, despite 
Francesco Silvestri' s immediate intervention Spina's further advancement 
was in no way impeded. With these circumstances in mind, one can only be 
perplexed. Can the audacity of Spina's attack against Cajetan be explained 
solely by vague references to his "conservatism," or to his aggressive person- 
ality, or even to the noble reasons which he himself explicitly adduces? Could 
it be that when Spina attacked Cajetan in 1518 he did so without hesitation 
because he was in fact acting on behalf of a more powerful person who, at least 
for the sake of decorum, could scarcely attack a cardinal openly? 

I suggest that the answer to this question is to be found in a passage of the 
Flagellum. Spina's response to Pomponazzi' s Apologia. In this passage Spina 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 51 

reacts furiously against a passage of the Apologia in which, at least according 
to Spina, Pomponazzi had attempted to bolster his case by claiming that the 
Master of the Sacred Palace was sympathetic to his position. In effect, in this 
passage of the Apologia, Pomponazzi had said that he had tried to discover 
whether the Master of the Sacred Palace had written against him as had been 
claimed by some Dominicans in Bologna. The result of this had been that 
Pomponazzi had been assured by a Dominican arriving in Bologna from Rome 
that the Master of the Sacred Palace had not written against him. He had been 
informed, nonetheless, that the Master of the Sacred Palace might have written 
against "some (Dominican) confrere" who had also argued that Aristotle held 
the opinion that the human soul was mortal.^ 

It is important to notice that this passage by Pomponazzi preceded Spina' s 
literary intervention inm the whole affair and that it is not so innocuous as 
might appear at first sight. The reference to "some (Dominican) confrere" who, 
like Pomponazzi, held the opinion that Aristotle had not taught the immortality 
of the soul and against whom the Master of the Sacred Palace might perhaps 
have written, can only be a reference to Cardinal Cajetan. Pomponazzi' s rather 
ironic reference to "some (Dominican) confrere" is both mocking and pro- 
vocative. What Pomponazzi is really saying is that, despite all the threats made 
by the Bolognese Dominicans, the Master of the Sacred Palace was not in the 
position to move against him because he could not do so without implicating 
Cajetan as well. 

In his reply to this passage Spina accuses Pomponazzi of lying about the 
attitude of the Master of the Sacred Palace. He praises him and stresses both 
his learning and his zeal for the faith. He claims that the Master of the Sacred 
Palace had not moved against Pomponazzi only because "many" held a similar 
position and not because he was sympathetic to it. Spina claims that in fact the 
Master of the Sacred Palace abhorred Pomponazzi' s writings and that 
Pomponazzi could discover this for himself if he examined the Master of the 
Sacred Palace's works. ^ 

Two points here deserve our attention. Spina's reference to the "many" 
who held a similar position and thereby made it impossible for the Master of 
the Sacred Palace to proceed against Pomponazzi coincides with the allusionto 
"some (Dominican) confrere" made by Pomponazzi. There can be no doubt 
about the identity of the single referent of these two expressions. There was at 
that time no Dominican other than Cardinal Cajetan who defended a position 
in any way similar to Pomponazzi' s. Spina's employment in his response to 
Pomponazzi of the more inclusive "many" just shows that Pomponazzi' s jibe 

52 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

had hit the mark. Second, in the passage Spina refers to the Master of the Sacred 
Palace as "my special teacher"^ and speaks of the opinions and works of the 
Master of the Sacred Palace as something with which he was intimately 


The Master of the Sacred Palace in question was the Dominican friar Silvestro 
Mazzolini da Prierio (1456-1527) who held the office from the second half of 
the pontificate of Leo X, through that of Adrian VI and into the first half of that 
of Clement VII.^ Silvestro Mazzolini, who was usually called "Prierias," is 
known to historians chiefly for his participation in the Roman juridical 
processes against Reuchlin and Luther and for his epistolary exchange with 
Erasmus. His life as a whole, however, has not been adequately studied, and 
his many works have not received the attention that they deserve. It is not 
surprising therefore that his involvement in the Pomponazzi affair has been 
generally overlooked by scholars. ^^ Nonetheless, an awareness of the role 
played by Prierias provides a valuable insight into the hidden dynamics of the 
affair and largely explains Spina's intervention. 

Prierias entered the Dominican Order in the convent of San Domenico in 
Savona in 1471 . He completed his initial theological studies in the Dominican 
studium générale in Bologna where he was a student of Pietro Maldura da 
Bergamo (+1482) and Dominic of Flanders (+1479). His fellow students at the 
time included Girolamo Savonarola and Paolo Barbo da Soncino (+1495). 
After some years of apostolic work Prierias returned to the Bolognese studium 
and a studens formalis in 1487 and once again counted Savonarola among his 
peers. During the academic year 1489-1490 he held the post of master of 
students and taught logic and astronomy. He served as biblical bachelor from 
1491 to 1493. After a further period of apostolic work he exercised the office 
of bachelor of the Sentences and graduated as a Master of Theology of the 
University of Bologna in 1498. He held the post of regent master in the 
Bolognese studium from 1499 to 1502. In that same year Prierias was 
appointed regent master in the studium of the convent of Santi Giovanni e 
Paolo in Venice. He refused this post to accept a call to the chair of metaphysics 
in via Thomae in the University of Padua, but he was not confirmed in the 
position. He subsequently served as prior of Dominican convents in Milan, 
Verona and Genoa. In 1508 Prierias was elected Vicar General of the 
Observant Congregation of Lombardy for a biennium and was appointed 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 53 

inquisitor in Brescia and Crema. From 1510 to 1512 he held concurrently the 
offices of prior of the convent of San Domenico in Bologna and of regent 
master in its studium. In 1512 he was appointed inquisitor in Milan and Lodi 
and played an important role in the opposition to the conciliabulum of Pisa- 
Milan. He further served as prior of Dominican convents in Cremona and 
Venice until his appointment as professor at the University of Rome and 
Master of the Sacred Palace in December of 1515. He died during the Sack of 
Rome in 1527. 

Spina not only knew Prierias but was also particularly close to him. Spina 
had not always been a member of the Observant Congregation of Lombardy. 
When he transferred to that congregation from the Roman-Tuscan Congrega- 
tion in 1509 he was received by Prierias who was then its Vicar General. Spina 
subsequently studied in the Dominican studium generate in Bologna during 
the academic years 1510-1511 and 1511-1512 when Prierias was serving both 
as prior of the convent of San Domenico and as regent master of the studium. 
When Spina attacked Cajetan and Pomponazzi he was a member of the convent 
of San Domenico di Castello in Venice where Prierias had been prior before 
he was appointed Master of the Sacred Palace by Leo X in December 1515. 
Prierias had been responsible for Spina' s assignation to that convent on the 1 st 
of January 1515^' and probably also for his appointment as its theological 
lector. Finally, when Spina's three tracts were published in 1519 they were 
dedicated to Cardinal Domenico Grimani (1451-1523). Grimani, a convinced 
Thomist, was Prierias' great patron in Rome and had influenced Leo X's 
decision to appoint him Master of the Sacred Palace and a professor of theology 
at the Sapienza. 

Prierias was also close to Spina. There are, as far as I have been able to 
discover, three explicit references to Spina in Prierias' works the earliest in the 
Conflatum exS. T/ioma, a thematic anthology of Aquinas' works accompanied 
by a commentary by Prierias. The Conflatum was projected as a great work 
which, if it had been completed, would have rivalled in scope the classic 
commentaries of Cajetan on the Summa Theologiae and of Francesco Silvestri 
on the Summa contra Gentiles. The fact that it was not completed was largely 
due to interruptions such as those caused by the case of Martin Luther and 
Prierias' subsequent preoccupation with the "sect of the witches" and espe- 
cially to the poor health that debilitated Prierias during the last years of his life. 
Prierias tells us that he completed about half the work, corresponding more or 
less to the materia;l dealt with by Aquinas in the la and the la-IIae of the Summa 
Theologiae. ^^ Furthermore, of the completed parts of the Conflatum only a 

54 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

small portion was actually printed. The section published in the first volume 
printed in Perugia in 1519 covers the material treated by Aquinas in the first 
45 questions of the Prima pars. 

The other completed but never printed parts of the Conflatum included 
Prierias' commentary on the discussion of the intellective soul presented by 
Aquinas in the second half of the Prima pars. In his commentary Prierias had 
dealt explicitly with the problem of the immortality of the soul. It is important 
to note that these "unpublished" parts of the Conflatum were certainly in 
circulation in manuscript form and presumably readily available.'^ They seem 
to have circulated even long after Prierias' death as they are occasionally cited 
by later theologians such as Mattia Gibboni da Aquario (+1591).''^ The 
Genoese Dominican historian Giovanni Maria Borzino (+1696) mentions that 
in his life the manuscript of the second volume of the Conflatum was still in the 
library of the convent of San Domenico in Bologna.'^ It was to these never 
printed parts of the Conflatum that Spina referred when he spoke of the works 
of Prierias that Pomponazzi ought to have consulted before daring to speak 
about the attitude of the Master of the Sacred Palace. 

The first volume of the Conflatum is supplemented by a letter of the reader 
in which Prierias presents an inventory of his previous works. It is in this 
context that we find his first explicit reference to Spina. Prierias tells us that he 
had entrusted to Spina the task of revising some of his very early works such 
as the Compendium dialecticae which had been published in Venice in 1496. 
Prierias refers to Spina as his "beloved and very erudite disciple."'^ 

Prierias' two other explicit references to Spina are of much greater 
importance because they occur within a lengthy discussion of the issue of the 
immortality of the soul. This discussion is presented in his De Strigimagarum 
Daemonumque Mirandis, Libri Très, first published in Rome in 1521 ^^ but, as 
indicated in the work's conclusion, completed on the 20th of November 
1520.'^ This work is an inquisitorial handbook concerned with the procedure 
to be followed in suspected cases of witchcraft and is largely derived from the 
Malleus Maleflcarum by Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer (Institor). 
Perhaps the only really original parts of the work are the third, fourth and fifth 
chapters of the first book. In these preliminary chapters Prierias deals in turn 
with the issues of the immateriality and subsistence of the human soul, its 
immortality and the authentic opinion of Aristotle on the matter. In the fifth 
chapter Prierias refers expressly to the case of Pomponazzi and it is precisely 
in this context that he mentions Spina. This extremely interesting material has 
not been noticed by any of the scholars who have previously dealt with the 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 55 

Pomponazzi affair. ^^ 

Prierias' attitude to Pomponazzi is uncompromising. After accusing him 
of having distorted his words in the Apologia he tells of his reaction on reading 
Pomponazzi' s De immortalitate animae and of his conviction as to the harm 
that the work was likely to do. He praises the Venetian Senate for having 
consigned the work to the flames, an example which he insists should have 
been followed everywhere. He praises his "most erudite and beloved son and 
disciple, Spina, for having refuted the position of Pomponazzi and stresses that 
he had himself already written against "that kind of position" even before 
Pomponazzi had composed the De immortalitate animae}^ He concludes the 
fifth chapter by reiterating his claim that he had written on these matters even 
before Pomponazzi and his conviction that the position of Pomponazzi had 
been successfully refuted by Spina and by another of his former students, 
Girolamo Fomari da Pavia.^^ 

This material from the De Strigimagarum warrants several remarks. First, 
since the De Strigimagarum was completed by the 20th of November 1520, 
these opening chapters of the first book must have been written at the same time 
or just a little after Spina's reprimand from Francesco Silvestri. Thus when 
Spina was himself attacked for his polemics against Pomponazzi and Cajetan 
— and defending Prierias — Prierias stood fully behind him. 

Second, the point-by-point similarities between the passage on Pomponazzi 
in Prierias' De Strigimagarum and the passage from Spina's Flagellum 
discussed above are too striking to be coincidental. They both contain 
expressions of anger at Pomponazzi' s attempt to manipulate Prierias' inaction 
for his own interests. They both insist on Prierias' reaction of disgust and 
concern for the simple, which had been provoked by Pomponazzi' s De 
immortalitate animae. They both refer to Prierias' opposition to positions 
similar to that of Pomponazzi held by others. They both stress that Prierias' 
authentic position can easily be discovered by reading his works. It is 
unfortunate that these works, the completed but not printed parts of the 
Conflatum, seem to be no longer extant. It would be pertinent to compare the 
arguments employed by Prierias against Cajetan with the arguments employed 
by Spina against Cajetan and Pomponazzi. 

Third, Prierias' observation that Pomponazzi' s work should not be 
entitled "On the Immortality of the Soul" but "On the Mortality of the Soul" 
is also found in the opening paragraph of Spina's Tutela veritatisP- 

Did Prierias have Spina's works open in front of him while writing this 
passage of the De Strigimagarum or had Spina's tracts been simply an echo of 

56 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Prierias' words to begin with? Either way, one can hardly doubt that there must 
have been some kind of understanding between the two men, and the motive 
force behind Spina's attack on Cajetan and Pomponazzi is evident. It was not 
a matter, in the first place at least, of either an entrenched conservatism or of 
a naturally polemical disposition. Spina was simply acting on Prierias' behalf 
in a conflict in which Prierias himself could not become openly involved. 

The overall scenario is clear. Prierias had been opposed to the position of 
Cajetan since 1510 when it had first been proposed in the commentary on 
Aristotle's De anina. Sometime during the years between 1510 and 1515 
Prierias wrote against Cajetan in those parts of the Conflatum which would 
never be printed. Prierias probably did not mention Cajetan by name but 
employed some conventional expression such as "nonnulli Thomistae" or 
"quidam modemi." Indeed the first volume of the Conflatum printed in 1519 
abounds with criticism of Cajetan on many diverse speculative issues. This is 
so much the case that one cannot but wonder whether the primary intent of 
Prierias' commentary in the Conflatum was not the refutation of Cajetan's 
particular interpretation of the doctrine of Aquinas. Yet Cajetan is never 
mentioned by name except for a single instance rich in philosophical implica- 
tions.^^ Nevertheless the identity of the referent of Prierias' critical remarks is 
clear as they usually focus on direct citations from Cajetan's commentary on 
the Summa Theologiae. 

When in his capacity as Master of the Sacred Palace and inquisitor and 
book censor in Rome Prierias examined Pomponazzi' s De immortalitate 
animae in 1516 he must have looked upon it, correctly or otherwise, as the 
result of the influence of Cajetan. Yet, precisely because Cajetan was then 
Master General he could not go so far as to condemn the book outright. 

What must really have provoked Prierias' anger was Pomponazzi' s 
attempt in the Apologia, completed on the 23rd of November 1517 and 
published early in 1518, to manipulate his reticence so as to cast him as a 
sympathizer. Prierias must also have found especially irritating Pomponazzi' s 
obvious reference to Cajetan and his implicit reference to Prierias' consequent 
impotence. Pomponazzi' s remarks were particularly cutting in the light of 
Cajetan's elevation to the cardinalate which had taken place in July 1517. At 
that point Prierias is likely to have exerted his influence as Master of the Sacred 
Palace so as to induce Leo X to demand the retraction which was called for in 
June 1518 and which brought the entire "Pomponazzi affair" to a climax. 
Pomponazzi, however, was able to defuse the matter by securing the interven- 
tion of Cardinal Pietro Bembo. 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 57 

It was precisely at this point, sometime toward the beginning of 1518 and 
at a time when Prierias' chances of taking radical steps against Pomponazzi 
must have seemed slim indeed, that Spina began to compose the three tracts 
which were published in 1519. But did Prierias propose the attack on Cajetan 
and Pomponazzi to Spina or was it Spina himself, convinced that Prierias 
would approve and indeed defend him if need be, who took the initiative? If 
we are to believe Spina the latter would seem to be the case.^"^ This might just 
be a classic case of protesting too much. Whatever the case, when Spina 
attacked Cajetan and Pomponazzi it was surely on Prierias' behalf and Prierias 
is likely to have known about it and supported him. 


The aim of this paper has been to show the previously unnoticed but important 
role played by Silvestro da Prierio in the Pomponazzi affair, and thereby to 
account for the hitherto unexplained intervention by Bartolomeo Spina. But it 
has also cast some light on an instance of conflict between Silvestro da Prierio 
and Thomas de Vio Cajetan. 

The relationship between these two eminent sixteenth-century ecclesias- 
tics was a long-standing one and much remains to be studied. Their first contact 
went back to 1488 when Prierias was already a renowned preacher and was 
about to begin teaching logic in the Dominican studium générale in Bologna. 
At the time Cajetan was a young student of 1 9, brilliant but feeble, who had just 
been sent to Bologna from the unreformed Dominican province of the 
Kingdom of Naples to follow the course in artium. After a few months Cajetan 
left Bologna because of poor health and settled back into the easy conventuality 
of his house in Gaeta. When he was well enough to recommence his studies he 
did so in the studium of the unreformed convent of Sant' Agostino in Padua. 
The relationship between the two did not end in fact until the Sack of Rome in 
1527, the occasion of Prierias' death and of Cajetan' s greatest humiliation. It 
was a relationship which involved periods of intense cooperation and periods 
of conflict and rivalry between two Dominican friars who represented two 
different conceptions of religious life and who were the principal advocates of 
two competing Thomistic schools. This complex matter in itself deserves 
further study. 

Pontificia Università San Tommaso, Rome 

58 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 


1. See particularly: F. Fiorentino, Pietro Pomponazzi. Studi storici sulla scuola bolognese e 
padovana del secolo XVI (Florence, 1 868), 1 56-241 ; E. Verga, "L'immortalità deH'anima 
nel pensiero del Card. Gaetano," Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica, XXVII (1935), suppl. 
21-46; M.-H. Laurent, "Introduction. Le Commentaire de Cajétan sur le De anima" in 
Thomas de Vio Cardinalis Caietanis, Scriptaphilosophica, éd. P. I. Coquelle (Rome, 1938), 
I, vii-liii; C. Giacon, La seconda scolastica, I-III (Milan, 1944-1951), 1, 53-90; É. Gilson, 
"Autour de Pomponazzi. Problématique de l'immortalité de l'âme en Italie au début du XVP 
siècle," Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age, XXXVI (1961), 163- 
279, and "L' affaire de l' immortalité de l' âme à Venise au début du XVP siècle," Umanesimo 
europeo e umanesimo veneziano, éd. V. Branca (Florence, 1963), 31-61; G. Di Napoli, 
L'immortalità dell'anima nel rinascimento (Turin, 1963), 179-338; M. L. Pine, Pietro 
Pomponazzi: Radical Philosopher of the Renaissance (Padua, 1986), 124-234. 

2. Spina' s three tracts were completed in 1 5 1 8. They were published in 1 5 1 9 as part of a wider 
collection entitled Opulscula [sic] édita per fratrem Bartholomeum de Spina pisanum 
ordinis predicatorum . . . Venetijs, per Gregorium de Gregoriis, 1519 die X mensis 

3. E. Gilson, art. cit. (1961), p. 196. The reservation is repeated in art. cit. (1963), p. 43. 

4. "1519, die 24 Octobris. — Ego fr. Hieronymus de Laude, prior Bononiensis, de communi 
consilio patrum discretorum dicti conventus, misi ad librorum venditorem qui habebat 
quosdam libros impressos Venetiis contra. Rev.mum D. Card. S. Sixti: De immortalitate 
animae humanae, et feci omnes quotquot habere potui, deferri in conventus sub deposito, 
et scripsi manu propria fratri Bartholomeo Pisano, auctori predicti libri, praecipiens ei in 
virtute sanctae obedientiae, nee aliquem librum qui in sua esset potestate cum illo titulo 
contra Thomam Caietanum et Peretum, vendere vel publicare auderet, nisi expressam in 
scriptis ostenderet se habere licentiam a vicario generali etc. Ipse rescripsit manu 
propria inter cetera, quod libellum contra Thomam Caietanum imprimi fecerat sine licentia 
et scitu rev.di vicarii congregationis Lombardiae, et de industria id fecerat, ne Rev.mus 
Cardinalis praedictus causam haberet indignationis contra congregationem, sed tantum 
contra ipsum fratrem Bartholomeum, qui dixit se zelo Dei et pro salute studentium tale opus 
edere voluisse. Postquam rev.dus vicarius, scilicet magister Franciscus de Ferrara id scivit, 
acriter reprehendit ipsum fratrem Bartholomeum, tunc lectorem Mutinensem. Ego idem fr. 
Hieronymus scripsi Cardinali S. Sixti quod Pater vicarius congregationis non 
cencessit licentiam fratri Bartholomeo Pisano publicandi hbrum praedictum." Lib. cons, 
conv. Bon., f. 36Av, cited by R. Creytens, "Les vicaires généraux de la congrégation O.P. 
de Lombardie," Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum, XXXII (1962), Pp. 256-257. 

5. In Summam contra Gentiles, II, c. 79, n. 8. 

6. "Diu etiam et per litteras et per amicos curavi: habere quedam tractatum viri eminentissimi 
Magistri Silvestri de Prierio sacri palatii apostolici magistri: quem quidam ex eiusdem 
ordinis fratribus: adversus nos composuisse rettulerunt. Verum eum proximus his diebus: 
Magister loannes de Augusta frater eiusdem ordinis ex urbe rediens: ad nos se contulisset 
retulit: Magistrum Silvestrum nihil adversus nos scripsisse quamquam forsan scripsisset 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 59 

adversus quedam confratrem: asserentem Arist. sentira animos esse mortales." Apologia, 
Bononiae 1518, II, Car. XXIIIr, b. 

7. "Audes et intermiscere mendacia sicut supra de magistro Vincentio Vincentin, sic in 
presenti loco de Magistro sacri pallatii viro doctissimo, integerrimo ac fidei zelantissimo 
preceptore meo singularissimo. Licet enim librum ut hereticum non damnaverit propter hoc 
quod contineat demonstrative non posse probari animam esse immortalem vel philosophus 
hoc non tenere et huiusmodi, que a multis opinata sunt. Non tamen librum commendavit, 
in hoc quod astruis demonstrative probari oppositum per rationes naturales quas induxisti, 
et hoc esse simplicité et absolute verum: illud vero esse dehramentum et principiis 
philosophi repugnans, et quod illud praedicarunt legumlatores fuisse deceptores. Hec et alia 
plura extrema damnatione digna, quibus Hber ille tuus refertus est non commendavit 
Magister sacri pallatii: immo abhorruit. Quodcertaexperireris, si suaprincipahterinteresset. 
Sed de his satis." Flagellum, f K. IVv, a. 

8. É. Gilson, art. cit. ( 1 963), p. 38, has mistakenly read Spina' s "preceptore meo singularissimo" 
as referring to Vincenzo Colzado. 

9. The only attempt at a biography of Prierias remains F. Michalski, De Silvestri Prieratis Ord. 
Praed. Magistri Sacri Palatii (MCCCCLVI-MDXXVIII). Vita et Scriptis (Miinster, 1892). 
I hope to complete a monograph a=on Prierias in the near future in which the biographical 
details concerning both Prierias and Spina introduced in this paper will be documented. 

1 0. For example, the most recent account of the affair has only two passing references to Prierias 
which seem to make of "the Master of the Sacred Apostolic Palace, Silvestro Mazzolini" and 
"Silvestris de Prierias, a theologian in the court of Leo X" two different persons (see M. L. 
Pine, Op.cit., p. 126). 

11. "Anno MDXIV. More Veneto [= 15151 die I. Januarii. Ego Fr. Silvester de Prierio Prior 
proposui Ven. PP. an vellent habere in filium sui Conventus P. Fr. Bartholomaeum de Pisis, 
et responderunt ut infra. In primis Ego idem Prior sum valde contentus etc." Liber 
consiliorum conventus S. Dominici de Castello, cited by F. Comelio, Ecclesiae Venetae 
Antiquis Monumentis (Venetiis, 1749), VII, p. 325. 

12. "Conflatum vero ipsum ex Divo Thoma propter sui vastitatem, neodum plene expletum est: 
sed quantum ad textum quidem, totum perfeci uniformiter: excepto eo quod secundum 
secundi ne magnitudo eius excresceret in immensum, edidi quasi per modum epithomatis: 
sic tamen quod nullum verbum s. Thomae mutatum est, et nullum verbum doctrinalem 
omissum: et forte hec pars ceteris gratior erit. Commentaria autem nostra in Conflatum, 
expleta sunt quo ad primum volumen plene: quo ad secondum idest primum secundi expleta 
sunt ex parte Magna, sed non plene: quia inde me invitum Martinus avulsit: cito vero ea deo 
favente explebo: sed quantum ad secundum secundi et tertium sive ultimum volumen puto 
commentandam relinquam alicui discipulorum meorum: nisi beatissimus dominus noster 
Leo sua bonitate qua me semper est prosequutus reddat religioni: ubi iam a prelaturis 
immunis et quietus omnia brevi tempore explerem. Quod si deo et domino nostro beatissimo 
faventibus effecere iam lentissimus mortem obibo." Conflatum (Perusiae, 1519), I, f 299v. 

13. The manuscript circulation of these unprinted parts of the Conflatum is evident from the 
references to this work in contemporary chronicles. See the entries on Prierias in Alberto de 

60 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Castello's Chronica Brevissima, second edition of 1516, published by R. Creytens, "Les 
écrivains dominicains dans la chronique d'Albert de Castello," Archivum Fratrum 
Praedicatorum, XXX (1960), pp. 298, 300; and in Leandro Alberti, De viris illustribus 
Ordinis Praedicatorum (Bononiae, 1517), f 140v. 

14. Francisci Silvestri Ferrariensis. . . Quaestiones luculentissimae in très libros De Anima. 
Cum additionibus as easdem. ..R.P. F. Matthiae Aquarij. . . (Venetiis, 1601), pp. 109, 138. 

15. G. M. Borzino, Memoria Domenicana Genovesi, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod. Vat. 
Ut. 9451, f 109 V. 

16. "Deinde de textum dialectice, qui quoniam prima fronte quaedam subtiliora perse fert, 
lectores deterret: cum tamen dilectus et eruditissimus discipulus meus Bartholomeus 
Pisanus. . ." Conflatum, I, f 299v. 

17. Impressum Rome per Antonium Bladis de Asula: die XXIV Septembris. Anno D. 
MCCCCCXXI. I cite the edition, Romae, In aedibus Po[puli] Ro[mani] MDLXXV. 

18. De Strigimagarum, p. 262. 

19. For example, G. Di Napoli in his account of the affair (see op. cit., p. 298) remarks: 
"Neir Apologia II (42) il Pomponazzi ricorda tra i contradittori i domenicani Vincenzo 
Colzade da Vicenza e Silvestro Prierias . . . dell'uno e dell'altro noi non possediama scritti 
riguardo al problema dell' immortalité." 

20. "Et si mei non est instituti, quid de immortalitate nostri animi senserit philosophorum 
sapientissimus Aristoteles afferre, quippe qui non humana authoritate probare cupio quod 
sentio: incidenter tamen de sententia et opinione Arist. in re hoc cogor rationem habere, quo 
me ipsum ab ijs quae mihi falso et leviter (idest me non audito) verbo aut scripto Petrus 
Pomponatius in Apologetico sup imposuit, expurgem: quod scilicet viso suo libro quem de 
immortalitate (imo de moratalitate) animae cudit, subriserim et probarim. Haec enim falso 
et leviter dicuntur: quin potius eo viso, ingemui ac dolui, quod ita catholica fides in 
parvulorum entibus per christianos elidatur, et enervetur, et erroribus innumeris sit occasio 
data, quod iam experientia docet: et si meum fuisset, in librum per ignes, Venetorum 
exemplo, animadvertissem. Illustrissimos autem dominos Venetos potius laudavi, et 
miratus sum, quod nulla habita ratione amicitie ad Perretum Venetijs id effecerunt, quod 
unique faciendum erat, tantum scilicet scelus flammis ultricibus expiasse. Quamquam vero 
copiosissime luculenter et eruditissime, dilectus et filius, et discipulus Bartho. Pissanus 
ordi. Praedi. eiusmodi opinionem confutarit, adducam tamen et ego quae quondam in 
Commentaris primi voluminis nostri conflati contra eiusmodi opinionem, antequam scri beret 
Perretus, compendiose edideram, etsi nee in hanc diem propalata sint." De Strigimagarum, 
p. 19. 

21 . "At Perretum respondi minime, quia de his ante eum scripseram: nunc vero respondere non 
oportet: quia per Fratrem Hieronymum Fornarium Bachalarium, et per Fratrem 
Bartholomaeum Pisanum fundamenta eius eversa sunt." De Strigimagarum, p. 42. 

22. "Castiga igitur propositum: et hunc qui libello huic tuo proprius est prepone titulum, petri 
pomponatii mantuani tractatus de moratalitate anime intellective." Tutela veritatis, f. D Illr, 

Michael Tavuzzi / Silvestro da Prierio and the Pomponazzi Affair / 61 

23. ". . .quidam dicunt idest caieta. quod [St, Thomas] ademit sibi omnem viam concordie cum 
doctrina arist. iuxta suam expositionem: quia tenet arist. putasse animas intellectivas 
immortales: et numeratas secundum numerum corporum: et constat arist. tenuisse 
generationem etemam: ex quibus manifeste sequitur animas humanas esse actu infinitas: 
quod hie decemitur impossibile: hec ille: qui ex his vult habere quod oportet s. tho. aut 
negare aristotelem: aut dicere animas rationales de mente eius esse mortales: de quo infra 
erit sermo. Sed ego dico primo aristotelem erasse in etemitate generationis: et consequenter 
eum negare non solum non inconvenit: sed est necesse: non solum secundum fidem, sed 
philosophice loquendo. . ." Conflatum, I, f. 48v. 

24. "Non potui ultra resistere spiritui sancto aut zelo animarum et veritatis frenum imponere, qui 
solus (deus testis est) me impulsit ad scribendum." This statement is in the letter A J lectorem 
at the end of the Flagellum. 




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'To Warn Proud Cities": a 

Topical Reference in Milton's 

"Airy Knights" Simile 

{Paradise Lost n.53 1-8) 


Summary: In Paradise Lost 11.53 1-8 modem editors often see an allusion to 
Josephus' account of armies appearing in the sky shortly before the fall of 
Jerusalem. In fact, reports of spectral soldiers and aerial battles were quite 
common in seventeenth-century English pamphlets, such as Mirabilis Annus 
and Five Strange Wonders. Airy apparitions do not seem to have held much 
fascination for Milton. But this does not mean that he could not exploit their 
popular appeal and their political symbolism in Paradise Lost. 


escribing the devils' wargames in Hell, Milton has recourse to an unusual 

As when to warn proud cities war appears 

Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush 

To battle in the clouds, before each van 

Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their spears 

Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms 

From either end of heaven the welkin burns. (11.53 1-8)' 

Modem editors see an allusion to Josephus' account of armies appearing in the 
sky shortly before the fall of Jerusalem.^ Such an allusion is plausible and I 
shall return to it. But Patrick Hume, the earliest editor of Paradise Lost, saw 
a more topical reference: 

These Warlike Apparitions may be well supposed sent to forewarn Proud 
and Luxurious Cities, they being seldom fancied to appear, but in disastrous 
Times, and eminent Dangers; our own Stories afford us some of these 
fîghting Phaenomena about the time of our Civil Wars.^ 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 2 (1995) /63 

64 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Following Hume' s hint, I have found reports of airy battles in 1 640, 1 642-3, 1 648, 
1659, 1660, 1661 and 1662. By placing Milton's "airy knights" simile in the 
context of these prodigies, I hope to bring out some of its political resonance. 

The apparition of 1640 is distant from Paradise Lost, but has a special 
claim on our attention since it is mentioned by Milton's nephew, Edward 
Phillips. In his The Reign of King Charles (1660), Phillips reports that in "the 
Sixteenth Year" of the reign of Charles I, "many Sights were seen in the Ayre, 
as Armies fighting one against the other, all looked on as sad Presages of the 
ensuing Broyls.'"^ Phillips is writing from a Royalist perspective, but the 
connection with his uncle is fortified by the preceding paragraph, where he 
refers to an eclipse of the sun that had occurred on the day of Prince Charles' 
birth (29 May 1630). Milton may covertly allude to this event in the following 
simile describing Satan's faded glory: 

his form had yet not lost 
All her original brightness, nor appeared 
Less than archangel ruined, and the excess 
Of glory obscured: as when the sun new risen 
Looks through the horizontal misty air 
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon 
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds 
On half the nations, and with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs. ( 1 .59 1 -99) 

John Toland tells us that the royal licenser found "imaginary Treason" in these 
lines.^ He adds that the licenser made several "other frivolous Exceptions" to 
Paradise Lost. Toland does not say what these were, but Phillips' citing of aerial 
battles alongside the eclipse as "sad Presages" of Civil War opens the possibility 
that Milton's "airy knights" simile was one of the other objectionable passages. 
The apparitions of 1642-3 occurred a few weeks after the battle of 
Edgehill. They are described in two pamphlets, both published in January 
1643. The first bears the gripping title: "A great wonder in Heaven: Shewing 
the laic Apparitions and Prodigious noyses of War and Battails seen on Edge- 
Hill near Keynton in Northampton-shire ^^ This pamphlet tells how spectral 
soldiers had been seen fighting above "the very place" where the Earl of Essex 
had obtained "a glorious victory over the Cavaliers" (p. 4). The battle of 
Edgehill (actually a marginal Royalist victory) had been fought on 23 October 
1642. The first apparition occurred on the Saturday before Christmas, "be- 
tween twelve and one of the clock in the morning" (p. 4). Certain "Shepherds, 
and other countrey-men and travellers" were amazed to hear "first the sound 

John Leonard / "To Warn Proud Cities" / 65 

of Drums a far off, and the noyse of Soulders, as it were, giving out their last 
groanes." Terrified, they turned to flee, 

but then on the sudden . . . appeared in the ayre the same incorporeall 
souldiers that made those clamours, and inmiediately with Ensignes displayed 
Drums beating, Musquets going off. Cannons discharged, Horses neyghing, 
which also to these men were visible, the alarum or entrance to this game of 
death was strucke up, one Army which gave the first charge, having the 
Kings colours, and the other the Parliaments . . . and so pell mell to it they 
went (p. 5). 

At first it seemed that the King's party would prevail, but "after some three 
houres fight, that Army which carryed the Kings colours withdrew, or rather 
appeared to flie; the other remaining, as it were. Masters of the field" (p. 5). 
Lest we be in doubt as to the vision' s meaning, the pamphleteer informs us that 
the Earl of Essex had been fighting "in the defence of the Kingdomes lawes and 
libertie" (p. 4). The second pamphlet appeared four days later and is called 
"The New Yeares Wonder. Being a most certaine and true Relation of the 
disturbed inhabitants of Kenton."^ This pamphlet agrees in almost all details 
with "A great wonder," but it is even more partisan in its conclusions, 
expressing the wish that King Charles put aside his "eveill councelares" (p. 8). 
These pamphlets are unlikely to have exercised a direct influence on Paradise 
Lost, but they did much to set the tone for subsequent prodigies. 

Five Strange Wonders in the North and est of England was published in 
1659 when Milton was at work on Paradise Lost. Two of the five wonders are 
relevant to Milton's simile. In one vision, two fiery pillars appeared "at Noon- 
day over Marston Moor . . . and between these two Pillars intervened several 
armed Troops and Companies in Battail array." The two pillars, appearing at 
opposite ends of the sky, offer a particularly suggestive context for Milton's 
line: "From either end of heaven the welkin bums." After a doubtful conflict, 
"the Northern Army vanquished the Southern Army: which being doen, the 
two Pillars vanquished [sic]."^ The anonymous pamphleteer comments: 

What this portends, no man can conjecture aright: but it may be supposed, 
the two Pillars represent his Highness and the Parliament, and the Northern 
Army the Forces of this Common wealth, vanquishing their Enemy, and 
maugre the Designs of all Forreign and Popish Confederates. Who need not 
in the least be feared, if the mutual closings and claspings of redintegrate 
affections and endearments be insisted upon between the Supream Authority 
and People, and each member of this Common-wealth, to return to his duty 
and proper station, and firmly to unite together, for the recovery of our long- 
lost Liberties, and dear-eam'd Priviledges (p. 5). 

66 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

The reference to the Lord Protector ("his Highness") suggests that the 
pamphlet was written before Richard Cromwell's abdication in May 1659.' 
The two armies are of course distinct from the two pillars, which are (or ought 
to be) supportive of a common cause. But there is a note of warning in the 
appeal to "redintegrate affections." The pamphleteer is aware that divisions 
within the Commonwealth are likely to benefit the Royalist cause. 

The note of warning is still stronger in the report of a second combat that 
took place over Newmarket-Heath. The pamphleteer tells how "many hundred 
Spectators" heard the "dreadful noise of Drums beating, and Trumpets 
sounding, though no armies were at first visible.' 


Yet no sooner had the sound passed away, but immediately they began to 
discern several Warlike Troops and Companions, arraying themselves in 
Battalia; and after some pickering [skirmishing], and vollies presented 
between several Parties, as it were Forlorn Hopes, the two main Bodies 
joyned Battel, disputing very puisantly, and with great vigour. During this 
Engagement, there seemed to be an extraordinary Light, and glittering of 
Swords, and Men in Armour, which continued for the space of half an hour; 
and then the one seemed to vanquish the other, taking their pursuit towards 
the City of London (p. 6). 

The pamphleteer does not identify the combatants on this occasion, and no 
Civil War battle had occurred at Newmarket Heath. The place had been in the 
headlines in June 1647, when Joyce conducted the king from Holmby to his 
home at Newmarket, and when the army had mustered there before marching 
on London. But who vanquished whom? Perhaps we shouldn't expect chrono- 
logical precision from a writer on apparitions. But it is ominous that London 
should be threatened. The pamphleteer tells us that the battle was followed by 
"sundry great Claps" of thunder, "from an Angry God, even like unto an 
Enemies Warning-Piece" (p. 6). One is reminded of Milton's words "to warn 
proud cities." Between October 1659 and April 1660 Milton offered repeated 
warnings of his own against the Restoration. After 29 May 1660 the time for 
such warnings was over. When armies next appeared in the sky they were 
perceived not as a warning against the Restoration, but as a portent of the 
punishment that was sure to follow it. 

Mirabilis Annus, or The Year of Prodigies and Wonders was published 
anonymously in 1661 . The opening illustration (fig. 1) is representative of the 
kind of prodigy the pamphlet reports. Blazing stars, inverted steeples, and 
flying swords are typical fare. The pamphlet also reports many incidents of 
armies fighting in the sky between 1660 and 1661. The second illustration in 

John Leonard / "To Warn Proud Cities" / 67 

the second column depicts a scene much like that reported in Five Strange 
Wonders: two armies encountering each other between two fiery pillars. An 
apparition of "two armies" fighting "in the air at London-bridge'' on 21 March 
1660 ought to have prevented the king's return, but didn't, so repeat perform- 
ances were scheduled for Surrey and Yorkshire in May 1660 and Kent and 
Cornwall in June 1661. Mirabilis Annus Secundus; or, The second Year of 
Prodigies ( 1 662) added more airy combats in Sussex (July 1 662) and Upingham 
in Rutland (October 1662).^^ Mirabilis Annus informs us that such apparitions 
most often portend "wars and commotions" and "usually for signifie some 
remarkable changes and revolutions.'' These "bode much misery and calamity 
to the prophane and wicked part of the World," but "very much good to the 
Sober and Religious part of the World." As an instance of 'the prophane," the 
pamphleteer cites Belshazzar. But Belshazzar is a thinly disguised Charles II: 

God by a prodigie doth sharply reprove the debauchery of this King and his 
Concubines, with the rest of his Associates, and thereby also declares the 
sudden period and determination of his Kingdom. 

But amongst the Hellish rout of prophane and ungodly men, let especially 
the Oppressors and Persecutors of the True Church look to themselves, 
when the hand of the Lord in strange Signes and Wonders is lifted up among 
them; for then let them know assuredly that the day of their Calamity is at 
hand (sig A4''). 

This kind of talk naturally drew the attention of King Charles' censor, Roger 
L' Estrange. ^^ L' Estrange methodically tracked down those responsible for 
printing Mirabilis Annus, though its authorship remained a mystery. Giles 
Calvert, Thomas Creake, and George Thresher (already in prison for earlier 
publications) were implicated in the printing, as was Francis Smith, who was 
arrested "with copies of Mirabilis Annus under his cloak."^^ Elizabeth Calvert, 
who saw the book through the press, was apprehended in October 1661. 
Richard Greaves conjectures that the Congregationalist George Cockayne and 
the Particular Baptist Henry Dan vers were the likeliest authors. L' Estrange did 
not soon forget Mirabilis Annus. In Considerations and Proposals in Order to 
the Regulation of the Press (1663), he cites the above-quoted paragraph 
alongside the title page of Milton's Tenure of Kings and Magistrates as 
examples of the kind of outrage that had to be suppressed. 

All of this may seem to have brought us a long way from the allusion to 
Josephus noted by Milton's modem editors. But Mirabilis Annus repeatedly 
cites Josephus and draws an explicit parallel between Jerusalem and London. 
Immediately after describing an aerial combat at Smitham's Bottom, near 

68 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Croydon, in which "two distinct Armies" were seen "engaging and pushing 
one against the other," the author comments: 

Prodigies like to this have at several times happened in many places, and the 
Events have been alwayes very signal and remarkable. 

Thus did God forewarn the J ewes of the destruction of themselves, their 
City and Temple which was effected not long after by Titus Vespasian (p. 

Since L'Estrange's role as censor brought him into contact with both Milton 
and Mirabilis Annus, I cite his translation of Josephus: 

on the twenty first of the month Artemissius, there appear' d a Vision so 
uncommon, that I should not dare to relate it, were there not several Eye- 
witnesses yet alive that can attest the truth of it. A little before the Sun went 
down, there were seen here and there up and down in the Air, Chariots and 
Men in Armour that spread all over the Country, and hover' d in the Clouds 
round about the City.'^ 

For the author of Mirabilis Annus, this precedent implies a parallel between the 
Jews who rejected Christ and the English who rejected liberty. But the radical 
pamphleteer is not content to take bitter satisfaction in the implied condemna- 
tion of English backsliders. He goes on to cite other cases where such 
apparitions signalled a divine call to arms. Apparently, ''Armies were often 
seen in the Heavens'' in the Netherlands in 1568, shortly before the Prince of 
Orange intervened on behalf of the Protestants. Aerial battles similarly 
foretold two Swedish victories in the Thirty Years War. The pamphleteer also 
mentions the apparition of 1640, citing Phillips directly. Finally, he gives 
another example from 1648 — this time presaging Cromwell's defeat of the 
Duke of Hamilton: 

The coming in and the total defeating of Duke Hambletons Army, Anno 
1 648 . was clearly portended by the appearance in the Heavens of a Southern 
and NortemA rmy in Yorkshire, and the Nortern A rmies being beaten by the 
other. The Truth whereof many yet live can testify (p. 16). 

This tradition of cloudy combat as a prelude to earthly tumults gives Mirabilis 
Annus a radical rather than a resigned tone. Mirabilis Annus Secundus cites 
Josephus with hope as well as dread: 

The Jews (says he further in the close of the same chap.) interpreted some of 
the Signs as they pleased, and at others they laughed, till by the ruin of their 
Country, and their own woful overthrow, their iniquity appeared. So, if we 
seriously reflect upon the present humour and temper of the generality of the 

John Leonard / "To Warn Proud Cities" / 69 

People in England at this day, how little credit and regard is given by them 
to the Signs of the Time . ..we have sufficient ground to expect, that our fear 
is coming as Desolation, and our Destruction as a Whirlwind, 
(sig A2v) 

L' Estrange might answer that the wish was father to the thought. 

Clearly, spectral visions were very much "in the air" when Milton wrote 
Paradise Lost. But what was Milton's attitude to them? The Readie & Easie 
Way shows no interest in portents of constitutional change — but it would 
hardly have served Milton's interests to draw attention to such prodigies on the 
eve of the Restoration that he was trying to avert. In The History of Britain 
Milton notes that "fiery Dragons, with other impressions in the air" were 
"judg'd to foresignifie" the Danish invasions.'"^ The comment is nevertheless 
perfunctory and Milton offers no opinion of his own on the likelihood of such 
events. In Of Reformation he had been frankly dismissive: 

Let the Astrologer be dismay' d at the portentous blaze of comets, and 
impressions in the aire as foretelling troubles and changes to states: I shall 
beleeve there cannot be a more illboding signe to a Nation {God turne the 
Omen from us) then when the Inhabitants, to avoid insufferable grievances 
at home, are inforc'd by heaps to forsake their native Country. ^^ 

All things considered, airy apparitions do not seem to have held much fascination 
for Milton. But this does not mean that he could not exploit popular interest in them 
when writing Paradise Lost. A contemporary reader familiar with pamphlets such 
as Mirabilis Annus and Five Strange Wonders would have easily recognized in 
Milton's "airy knights" a glancing allusion to the Civil Wars and the Restoration. 
The simile implies Milton's pride in the English Revolution and his bittemess at 
those who had betrayed it. The implied parallel between the backsliding peoples 
of London and Jerusalem would not have been lost on L'Estrange and his fellow 
licensers. Years later, when the Revolution of 1 688 caused a reversal in L' Estrange' s 
own fortunes, he was forced to support himself by translating Josephus. When he 
came to that passage about airy combatants appearing over the cities of Judaea, 
L'Estrange most likely remembered Mirabilis Annus and Mirabilis Annus 
Secundus. It is tempting to think that he may also have recalled Milton's 
subversive simile and its implied hope that the disillusioned subjects of the Stuart 
kings might happen to move new broils. 

University of Western Ontario 

70 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 


This essay emerged from my research at the Huntington Library while preparing an edition 
of Milton's Complete Poems for the Penguin English Poets series. My work at the 
Huntington was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research 
Council of Canada; to the Council and to the Huntington I extend my sincere thanks. I also 
thank the Huntington for giving me permission to reproduce the illustration from Mirabilis 

1 . The Poems of John Milton, ed. John Carey and Alastair Fowler (London: Longmans, 1 968). 
All quotations of Milton's poetry are from this edition. 

2. Flavius Josephus, Bellum ludaicum 6.5.3. 

3. P[atrick] H[ume], Annotations on Milton 's Paradise Lost (1695), p. 70. 

4. Sir Richard Baker, A Chronicle of the Kings of England, From the time of the Romans 
Govemement Unto the Death of King James. Whereunto is now added in this Third Edition, 
the Reign of King Charles, I (London, 1660). The Reign of King Charles (pp. 457-506) is 
by Edward Phillips (see pp. 493-4). 

5. Helen Darbishire, éd.. The Early Lives of Milton (London, 1932), 180. In the context of 
treason, "imaginary" meant more than just "fancied." "Imaginary treason" was a legal term 
in which "imagine" preserved the sense it had in Law French: "plot" or "scheme." Thus the 
Statute of Treasons defines treason as "quant homme fait compasser ou ymaginer la mort 
nostre seigneur le roi, ma dame, sa compaigne, ou de lour fitz primer et heir" (25 Edward 
III, st. 5, c. 2). This Statute has never been repealed. For further discussion of Milton's 
eclipse simile, see B. A. Wright's letter to the TLS, 20 June 1929. See also Christopher 
UWUMilton and the English Revolution (London: Faber, 1977), p. 405 and John 
LeonaidJ\faming in Paradise (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), pp. 111-15. 

6. B.M. Thomason Tracts. E.85 (41). Published 23 January 1643 (New Style). See also the 
chapter "Of Apparitions" in Peter Young, Edgehill 1642: the Campaign and the Battle 
(Kineton: Roundwood Press, 1967), pp. 162-6. 

7. B.M. Thomason Tracts. E.86 (23). 27 January 1643. 

8. "The Five Strange Wonders in the North and West of England" (London, 1659), p. 5. 

9. This dating is uncertain, however, since the title-page of Five Strange Wonders refers to 
"this present summer." There were several abortive Royalist risings in England in August 
1659. That of Sir George Booth was crushed by Lambert near Northwich on August 19. 

10. Mirabilis Annus 14-15, 25, 3S. Mirabilis Annus Secundus, 3, 24-5. 

11. L' Estrange was not the same licenser who later objected to Paradise Lost. William Riley 
Parker identifies that licenser as Thomas Tomkyns. See Milton: A Biography, 2 vols. 
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1968), 1.600. L' Estrange' s experience with Mirabilis Annus may 
nevertheless have made Tomkyns especially suspicious of prodigies and wonders in 
Paradise Lost. L' Estrange had recently answered the first edition of Milton's Readie & 
Easie Way (February 1660) with No Blinde Guides (April 1660). 

John Leonard / "To Warn Proud Cities" / 71 

12. Richard Greaves, Deliver us from Evil: the Radical Underground in Britain, 1660-1663 
(Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 213. 

13. Roger L'Estrange, The Wars of the Jews (London, 1702; 3rd edn. 1717), p. 153. 

14. Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. Don M. Wolfe et. al., 8 vols. (New Haven and 
London: Yale University Press, 1953-82), vol. 5, part 1, p. 244. 

15. Complete Prose Works, 1. 585, 

Book Reviews 
Comptes rendus 

La cité heureuse: l'utopie italienne de la Renaissance à l'Age baroque, sous 
la direction de Adelin Charles Fiorato, textes traduits de l'italien par P. 
Abbrugiati, A. C. Fiorato, H. Giovanetti, C. Paul. Paris: Quai voltaire - Édima, 
1992. Pp. 320. 

L'objet de cette utile publication est de fournir aux lecteurs francophones, sous forme 
panoramique, un éventail varié de textes d'inspiration utopique, publiés par des 
auteurs italiens entre 1548 (date de la traduction italienne de V Utopie de More) et 1625 
(date des discours utopiques de Ludovico Zuccolo. 

Cette anthologie de textes, qui fait suite à une introduction consistante d'A. C. 
Fiorato (pp. 7-49) et à une note explicative des traducteurs (pp. 50-51), comprend un 
extrait del Mondi d'Anton Francesco Doni, dialogue entre le Sage et le Fou (pp. 53- 
7 1 ), un fragment de La cité heureuse de Francesco Patrizi (pp. 73- 1 02), la "république 
imaginaire" incluse dans les Dialogues de l 'Infini de Ludovico Agistini (pp. 104- 151), 
La cité du soleil de Tommaso Campanella (pp. 143-204), et deux textes de Ludovico 
Zuccolo, "le Belluzzi ou la cité heureuse," et "le Porto ou la République d'Evandria" 
(pp. 205-261). L'anthologie est complétée par quelques textes significatifs d'artistes 
(Alberti, Filarete, Vinci), un extrait du Mundus novus d' Amerigo Vespucci, du 
Discours sur la première Décade de Tite-Live de Machiavel, et deux textes versifiés 
(un extrait de la Jérusalem délivrée du Tasse, dans sa traduction française en vers de 
1595, et une poésie anonyme sur le pays de Cocagne). Chaque texte est précédé d'une 
notice biographique et littéraire sur les auteurs. Un tableau chronologique et une 
bibliographie complètent l'ouvrage (pp. 307-315). Le lecteur peut ainsi parcourir du 
regard un paysage idéologique et culturel et apprécier des variations de conception et 
d'écriture, que se sont efforcé de préserver les traducteurs. Il a également en main un guide 
ou un mode d'emploi développé par l'introduction, les notes explicatives et les annexes. 

L' intérêt porté à l' utopie s' est développé au cours du vingtième siècle, notamment 
dans le sillage des événements de 1968, en même temps que s'est constituée une 
nouvelle manière de l'envisager, dans les voies tracées par quelques promoteurs (dont 

74 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Emst Bloch et Herbert Marcuse), comme témoignage d'une aspiration vitale de la 
conscience et d'une expérimentation de l'imaginaire, plutôt que comme modèle 
sociologique dont la dénonciation avait été faite par Karl Marx . Cet intérêt s' est reporté 
sur les créations du seizième siècle qui a vu, avec l' Utopie de Thomas More, le projet 
de république se constituer en genre littéraire (l'ouvrage, dans sa version originale 
latine a vu le jour en 1516). La production qui a suivi a donné lieu à des études 
d'ensemble sur l'utopie au seizième siècle, comme les actes du colloque de Bruxelles 
de 1961 et les articles de la Revue Analytique de Littérature Française (1970). La 
production italienne a fait l'objet spécifiquement d'analyses de la part de C. Battista, 
C. Curcio, A. Tenenti et L. Firpo. Une exportation hors des frontières linguistiques et 
territoriales de sa naissance s'imposait, pour marquer son rôle dans le concert européen 
des rêves utopiques. A travers les textes retenus, on retrouve l'influence des modèles 
communs venus de l'Antiquité, comme La République de Platon et La Constitution 
d'Athènes d' Ansioie. Moins caractéristiques (sauf pour Doni) apparaissent l'influence 
lucianique et les images de géographie imaginaire cultivées par le Moyen Âge (dont 
l'influence est sensible chez Rabelais). Le modèle qui informe l'écriture est, d'une 
manière générale, celui du code juridique, civil, pénal et militaire. Son austérité est 
tempérée par la forme du dialogue, qui permet d'aérer par des ruptures la continuité 
de l'exposé. Un ton généralement sérieux porte les marques de la Contre-Réforme et 
d'une période de reconstruction intellectuelle autour de quelques repères abstraits que 
l'on veut sûrs intellectuellement, à défaut d'être crédibles politiquement. 

Si le modèle républicain est attesté, c'est un esprit unitaire et uniformisateur qui fait 
prioritairement valoir ses droits. L'organisation de l'espace se ressent des principes qui, 
derrière Vitruve, ont inspiré l'architecture et l'urbanisme de la Renaissance (les textes de 
Filarete et d' Alberti, cités comme documents supplémentaires, prennent ainsi toute leur 
valeur). Le modèle mathématique, instituant une géométrie de la proportion et de la 
symétrie, renforce son caractère de centralisation, créant un espace fermé et hiérarchisé 
par rapport au point de convergence et de recoupement central. L'exemple le plus abrupt 
de cette orientation est La Cité du Soleil. Cette organisation mathématique de l'espace 
entre en résonance avec des principes de rationalité abstraite appliqués au domaine social 
et politique. Les sociétés de nulle part s'érigent en forme pyramidale ou circulaire, qui 
attirent magnétiquement en elles, en toute naïveté, des forces de dislocation et 
d'effervescence perçues comme contraires à la nature parce qu'elles sont contraires à cet 
ordre. Les régimes de monarchie absolue apparaissent ainsi conrnie les héritiers légitimes, 
historiquement réalisés, de ces vues géométriques de l'esprit. 

Le rêve mathématisé de la cité heureuse ne constitue toutefois qu'une des formes 
possibles de l'aspiration au bonheur: le bonheur est ici dépendant d'un ordre, et l'ordre 
a pour objet principal de vouloir exorciser l'angoisse du chaos et du retour à l'informel. 
Pour rendre compte de ce qui se passe dans les esprits du temps, vivant dans les cités 
réelles, il faudrait adjoindre à ce monument de clarté les ombres qu'il secrète en 
prétendant les éliminer: à côté du rêve technocratique, promoteur de l'unité et de la 
symétrie, le rêve bucolique, qui propose une harmonie fondée sur un imaginaire 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 75 

biologique (la Nature-Mère) et émotionnel (un retour à un état d'innocence restaurée): 
l'utopie écologique dessine en contrepoint, avec ses Arcadies et ses paradis agrestes, 
le double féminin de l'utopie technologique, urbaine et collectiviste. S'opposant enfin 
à la fois à la vie heureuse de style bucolique et à la cité heureuse de type collectiviste, 
il y a aussi l'utopie ironique, tonique, décapante — le rire de Démocrite et de Diogène 
— qui alimente les textes satiriques, manifestant que la conscience ne saurait se 
dissoudre dans aucune de ces constructions: c'est le rôle des paradoxes qui manifestent 
par la négation et l'inversion qu'une place reste toujours libre pour de nouvelles 
productions. Il est vrai que l'utopie porte aussi cette marque d'être, lorsqu'elle ne se 
prend pas à son jeu, un regard ironique porté sur le réel. 

Cet ouvrage met opportunément à la portée du lecteur de nouvelles nourritures 
pour mieux comprendre un type de pensée et de discours qui, contrairement à ce qu'on 
croit généralement, ne s'évapore pas en fumée, dans la substance dont sont formés les 
rêves, mais s'inscrit aussi en consistance idéologique et en réalisation historique, avec 
toutes les métamorphoses liées aux aléas et aux effets pervers que suppose le passage 
de la cité de papier à la cité des hommes. 

CLAUDE-GILBERT DUBOIS, Université de Bordeaux 

Christopher Hodgkins. Authority, Church, and Society in George Herbert: 
Return to the Middle Way. Columbia and London: University of Missouri 
Press, 1993. Pp. xii, 23 L 

Christopher Hodgkins' informative study of George Herbert's "middle way" offers 
students of late Renaissance England a thorough, lucid, and subtle analysis of 
Herbert's place in the complex religious, political, and social world of early seven- 
teenth-century England. The book effectively relates Herbert's thought to the Eliza- 
bethan Settlement reconciling Calvinist doctrine with Episcopalian church structure 
and liturgical practice (the "Old Conformity"), to the absolutist high-church Anglicanism 
imposed by Archbishop Laud (the "New Conformity"), and to the issues involved in 
the Civil War between Puritans and the Crown. It ends with an essay on "Herbert and 
the Church in Society," which deals with Herbert's practical understanding of the role 
and responsibilities of the parish priest within the church structure. The work as a 
whole provides important insights for understanding Herbert and his milieu, and 
background for any informed reading of his well-known lyric poetry. 

Drawing on the work of church historians, literary critics, and writers contempo- 
rary with Herbert, Hodgkins carefully locates Herbert's stance in the shifting political, 
religious, and social disputes of his day. Specifically, Hodgkins defines Herbert as a 

76 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

believer in the true "middle way," a via media characterized by the Elizabethan 
Settlement rather than (as often mistakenly understood) midway between Geneva and 
Rome. The Elizabethan Settlement brought peace between the contending parties by 
combining essential Protestant theology with the structure and liturgical practices of 
the established church and the monarchy. 

As Hodgkins explains, "Old Conformists" of Herbert's type shared with Puritans 
the same base in Luthero-Calvinist biblicism, but they built (or wished to build) 
differently in matters of ecclesiastical policy" (p. 3). Hodgkins further elucidates his 
point: "My fundamental claim is that as the gap widened between Puritan 'Non- 
conformists' and William Laud's 'New Conformists,' Herbert walked the increas- 
ingly lonely way of the Elizabethan 'Old Conformists.' To be painfully precise: in the 
conflict between Arminian [free-will] absolutist high-church Episcopalians (New 
Conformists), Herbert kept to the 'middle way' of his boyhood church, as a Calvinist 
nonabsolutist lower-church Episcopalian (Old Conformist)." Hodgkins goes on to 
say, "He [Herbert] emphasized God's loving, unconditional, irresistible grace. . .; he 
preferred a powerful but constitutionally limited monarchy and episcopacy; he 
preached and ministered in the authoritative plain and practical style of the moderate 
Puritans, passing important spiritual responsibility onto laymen; and he advocated 
simple, scriptural intelligibility in liturgy, church architecture and poetry" (p. 11). 

In short, Hodgkins defines Herbert as an Episcopalian Calvinist: one who 
believed with Calvin and the Puritans in the Fundamentals of Protestant theology, but 
who also embraced with minor reservation the social, ecclesiastical, and political 
hierarchy that characterized Stuart England. Moreover, Hodgkins reminds us, the real 
break from the "Old Conformity" came with the radical reforms of Archbishop 
William Laud and his Arminian party in the 1620s, and not with the later Puritan 
rebellion in mid-century. To support his argument, Hodgkins instructively parallels 
Herbert both with well-known Puritans such as William Perkins, Richard Baxter and 
John Bunyan and well-known Anglicans like Richard Hooker and John Donne. 
Hodgkins also opposes Herbert in fundamental ways to the High Anglicanism of 
Archbishop Laud and Lancelot Andrewes. Had Hodgkins chosen to delve more fully 
into the ideas of Donne, he might have recognized more clearly that Donne, along with 
Herbert, was also a believer in the "true middle way." 

Hodgkins' detailed discussion of Herbert and Herbert's view of the true "middle 
way" is followed by an analysis of Herbert' a views on the limits of secular power and 
authority, the rhetorical strategies used by pastor and poet, the significance of externals 
in worship, and questions of "plainness and practicality" — particularly as represented 
in Herbert' s poem on topics such as church liturgy, architecture, vestments, and music. 

Finally, Hodgkins discusses Herbert's practical understanding of the role of the 
parson in English society, particularly in terms of the parson's powers and responsi- 
bilities, a discussion that nicely reconciles the ambitious young Herbert with the 
mature Herbert's tranquil life as parish priest in rural Bemerton. Hodgkins reminds us 
that Herbert did not in fact withdraw from the world, as scholars have often thought. 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 77 

but rather believed, correctly or not, that he was engaged in an attempt to fundamen- 
tally reform the English church from its roots. The book concludes with a brief 
epilogue that speculates on Herbert's possible reaction, had he lived, to the forces 
unleashed by the Civil War between the Puritans and the Crown which broke out 
following his death. Hodgkins attempts this by drawing a parallel with the thought and 
experience of Thomas Fuller, Herbert's younger contemporary, who lived through the 
war — admired and despised equally by both sides — in a precarious obscurity. 

Hodgkins purposely does not provide a systematic reading of Herbert's corpus, 
but rather deals only with those works which elucidate Herbert's theological thinking. 
These include lyrics from The Temple, such as "The British Church," "Lent," and "The 
Priesthood," as well as prose passages from The Countrey Parson and other, lesser 
known, works. Hodgkins rightly understands that we should not confuse lyric poems 
with expositions on theology. He also realizes that Herbert uses poetry to "dramatize 
and realize in lyric form the confusions and resolutions that doctrine often works on 
the believer" (p. 4). Hodgkins' interesting approach allows him to offer fresh, detailed, 
and nuanced readings of less-known Herbert poems as well as of many of Herbert's 
more well-known lyrics from The Temple. While Hodgkins' analysis of Herbert's 
poems is sophisticated and subde, the reader would have benefitted from a reprinting 
of each poem at the outset of the chapter devoted to its explication. 

Hodgkins does an admirable job drawing out the religious, political, and social 
subtleties of seventeenth-century England as they affected Herbert and his thought. 
Moreover, Hodgkins has provided a welcome and important corrective to earlier 
studies of Herbert's religious views. He correctly presents a Herbert far more in tune 
with the complexities of his age than traditional scholarship has realized. Hodgkins 
does not attempt a systematic reading of Herbert's best-known poetry; nevertheless, 
his work is essential background reading for anyone interested in Herbert. It is an 
important study of the complex interrelationship between religion and politics in the 
years preceding the English Civil War. 


78 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Cynthia Skenazi. Maurice Scève et la pensée chrétienne. Travaux d' Humanisme 
et Renaissance 264, Genève, Droz, 1992, Pp. 156. 

A Scève Celebration. Délie 1544-1994, sous la dir. de Jerry Nash. Saratoga/ 
Stanford: Anma Libri/Department of French & Italian, Stanford University, 
1994, Pp. 189. 

Depuis sa première édition en 1544, \sl Délie de Maurice Scève n'aura cessé de piquer 
la curiosité des lecteurs, suscitant une profusion d'analyses et de commentaires 
érudits. Ces dernières années, la critique universitaire a fait avancer la connaissance 
d'une oeuvre essentielle du lyrisme de la Renaissance lyonnaise, que les travaux de V.- 
L. Saulnier avaient entamée. Depuis, bien du chemin a été parcouru, mais IsiDélie offre 
toujours autant de résistance à l'appréhension de son ordre caché. 

Parmi les récentes contributions, il convient de signaler la lecture lacanienne de 
Nancy Frelick (Délie as Other, 1 994) et celle de Cynthia Skenazi qui situe la Délie dans 
une perspective évangélique: ". . . de la Délie au Microcosme, le poète lyonnais fait le 
récit d'une aventure spirituelle qui s'intègre dans un contexte christocentrique 
profondément marqué par la lecture de saint Paul" (p. 9). 

S 'appuyant sur une solide documentation, Cynthia Skenazi aborde le canzoniere 
français dans une perspective éthique placée sous l'égide d'Érasme et de Budé. Dans 
le premier chapitre ("La conversation"), elle retrace les étapes du "renouveau spirituel" 
dont rend compte l'expérience amoureuse. Au terme de Délie, le dizain final coincide 
avec le huitain liminaire et le récapitule "pour former un tout indissoluble qui a une 
signification rédemptrice" (p. 4 1 ). Dans le même éclairage, Skenazi réévalue la notion 
de persévérance ("L'évertuement") pour lui conférer une dimension eschatologique 
qu'elle décrit au moyen de l'intertexte érasmien (cf. V Enchiridion Militis Christianï). 
Elle montre aussi que cette notion, constante dans l'univers poétique de Scève, sous- 
jacente dans Délie, informe la représentation de l' Histoire dans le Microcisme ( 1 562). 
"La coincidence des contraires" est une autre force dynamique qui sous-tend l' expérience 
scévienne. Si le jeu des oppositions, des contraires (amour charnel/amour spirituel. . 
.), n'est pas propre au recueil de Scève, en revanche la concordia discors est originale 
en ce qu'elle "inscrit la représentation du désir scévien dans le contexte spirituel de son 
époque" (p. 84). Dans le chapitre suivant, Skenazi met en valeur la mise en jeu 
politique de Délie et s'interroge sur les correspondances établies entre l'écriture du 
désir et les références historiques. Enfin, elle retrace la recherche du poète qui, selon 
elle, "se fonde sur les trois vertus théologales que les épîtres de saint Paul ne cessent 
de louer" (p. 1 23). Une bibliographie complète l'ouvrage, auquel il aurait été utile sans 
doute d'y adjoindre un index des noms. Au total, on trouvera dans cette belle étude une 
lecture, attentive à l'oeuvre de Scève, qui se distingue par un souci de clarté dans la 

On retrouve cette clarté d'analyse dans la contribution que ce même critique 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 79 

apporte à la commémoration de Scève, orchestrée par Jerry Nash. Cynthia Skenazi 
revient sur les rapports harmoniques du recueil ("L'harmonie dans la Délie: musique 
et poésie") en indiquant l' influences des thèses de Marsile Ficin sur la pensée de Scève 
et les effets mélodiques auxquels concourent les dizains. La dimension musicale du 
recueil intéresse aussi les analyses d' Edwin Duval ("From the chanson parisienne to 
Scève' s French canzoniere: lyric form and logical structure of the Dizain"). Celui-ci 
étudie minutieusement les structures du dizain (en particulier, les effets de césure 
strophique) et en arrive à la conclusion que Scève avait organisé ses dizains de manière 
à être mis en musique et à correspondre au modèle de la chanson parisienne (césure 
en 4/6). Pour leur part, R. et V. La Charité ("A sa Délie: the Text of the Text"), Hope 
Glidden ("Maulx tant extremes: homophonic strategies in Scève' s Délie''), et Nancy 
Frelick ("Looking for Délie through the Labyrinth of Signs") abordent la question de 
l'obscurité scévienne, de la part de mystère qui entoure cette oeuvre et cette femme, 
par le biais de l'homophonie. L'onomastique, les jeux de mots sont autant de moyens 
pour dérouter le lecteur et l'inviter à chercher dans le recueil une pluralité de sens. De 
son côté, François Rigolot ("Cinq paroles intelligibles, à propos de Scève l'obscur") 
dresse le bilan de la réception critique et pose la question de l' interprétation é vangélique 
du recueil, en soulignant que la recherche de l'expression obscure semblerait "en 
contradiction avec l' idéal d' une appréhension directe de la simplicité évangélique" (p. 
58). À partir de la lecture que Scève a faite de la traduction du Nouveau Testament par 
Lefèvre d'Étaples, Rigolot replace le "désir obsessionnel de concision dans le cadre 
du discours paulinien sur l'intelligibilité" (p. 61). Gérard Defaux ("L'intertexte 
marotique de la Délie: M. Scève et 'ferme amour'") et J. DellaNeva ("Image and 
(Un)likeness: mirroring Other Texts in Scève' s Délié") apportent des éléments 
nouveaux sur l'intertextualité à l'oeuvre dans le recueil. Le premier, à partir du dizain 
17, souligne l'influence décisive de Marot; la seconde revient sur le pétrarquisme de 
Scève. Dans un tout autre domaine, Tom Conley et Yvonne Bellenger s' intéressent aux 
dimensions spatio-temporelles de la Délie Le premier ("Scève cosmographe") trace 
les lignes qui parcourent l'oeuvre en mettant en perspective le sens et la lettre, le texte 
et l'image; quant à Y. Bellenger ("Le temps et les jours dans la Délie''), elle souligne 
que "Scève montre le temps en mouvement" (p. 1 83) et que "le jour est devenu une pure 
métaphore de la dame" (p. 179). Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani ("Scève: l'infinitif, la loi, 
le devenir") procède à l'étude de la langue scévienne pour définir les nuances d'une 
écriture qui semblerait s'épuiser dans la nomination de son objet. Enfin, Jerry Nash, 
maître d'oeuvre de cette mouture, dans une perspective herméneutique, réévalue la 
poétique du désir ("Desires in Délie. A Study in Hermeneutics"). 

Le lecteur trouvera sans doute dans ce volume, regroupant 1 3 contributions fort 
diverses d'Europe et d'Amérique et d'un intérêt parfois inégal, des repères qui 
baliseront son exploration de Délie, cet "objet de plus haute vertu.' 


FRANÇOIS ROUGET, University of Toronto 

80 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Alastair Hamilton. Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The 
Alumbrados. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1992. Pp. iv, 

Henry Kamen. The Phoenix and the Flame: Catalonia and the Counter 
Reformation. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993. Pp. xiv, 

Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The Alumbrados is the first compre- 
hensive historical survey in English of alumbradismo, a heresy which flourished in Spain 
during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Alastair Hamilton traces the develop- 
ment of alumbradismo, irom its initial clash with the Inquisition of Toledo in the 1520s, 
to the trials of the alumbrados in Llerena in the 1580s and those of Seville in the 1620s. 
He bases his study on the writings of various religious figures of the period, and in the case 
of the earliest alumbrados, who left behind no formal compilation of their beliefs, on 
letters written in their defense and statements made by witnesses at their trials. 

Hamilton locates the origins of alumbradismo in heterodox movements of the 
Christian Middle Ages as well as in the late fifteenth-century Franciscan practice of 
recogimiento, the gathering up of the soul to God. In certain segments of the clergy and 
laity, and significantly among a high proportion of women, recogimiento led to a more 
radical form of prayer known as dejamiento, the abandoning of the soul to God. 
Though the distinction between recogimiento and dejamiento was never definitively 
established, the dejados claimed to be filled with a divine light (hence the designation 
alumbrado) and to achieve a passive union with God. Its practitioners not only 
advocated complete passivity, but considered themselves free from moral law. They 
were thus charged with antinomianism. The alumbrados of Llerena and Seville, 
moreover, allegedly engaged in mystical extravagance, imposture, and licentiousness. 

Many alumbrados were of conversa origin, and the earliest were denounced as 
Judaizers. Their beliefs, however, had virtually nothing in common with Judaism, and 
the Inquisition soon came to realize that it was confronted with a new heresy. Although 
the first cases coincided with the rise of Lutheranism, the inquisitors of the 1520s were 
still unapprised of the subtleties of Lutheran theology, and did not consider 
alumbradismo a manifestation of Protestantism. In reality the early alumbrados shared 
more in common with evangelical Catholics than with Protestants, and following the 
appearance of Lutheran communities in Valladolid and Seville in the 1550s, the 
differences between the two became apparent. In the course of the sixteenth century, 
alumbradismo was imputed to several leading religious figures, including Ignatius 
Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross. But by the last decades of the century, 
it was increasingly regarded as religious imposture. In fact no one ever chose to 
identify him or herself as an alumbrado/a, and the term was strictly one of accusation. 

In the late seventeenth century the quietism of Miguel de Molinos (which shared 
tenets with alumbradismo) emerged as the primary heresy of the Catholic world, and 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 81 

as Hamilton writes at the end of his book, "the essentially Spanish heresy of the 'poor 
little women and the ignorant' gradually faded away" (p. 128). Although it is not within 
the scope of this study, much more could be said about the role of women within 
alumbradismo, and how its interiorized spirituality provided a space outside of the male- 
dominated ecclesiastical hierarchy for both women and men. On the whole. Heresy and 
Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain is a significan contribution to Spanish historiography, 
both for its elucidation of the beliefs of alumbrados and for its clarification of the 
interconnectedness of the various religious movements of the time. 

In contrast to Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, which for the 
most part remains focused on the dynamics of religion itself, the Phoenix and the 
Flame: Catalonia and the Counter Reformation assesses the repercussions of the 
Counter Reformation on Catalonia through a social history of a small, pre-industrial 
community, Mediona, and by extension the larger Mediterranean region of which it 
was a part. In the extraordinarily rich and provocative study, Henry Kamen raises 
fundamental questions regarding the relationship of the Catalan Church to popular 
religion and culture. He rejects the claim of Church writers of the period that the 
Counter Reformation was a continuation and reaffirmation of traditional religious 
practices, arguing instead that significan changes occurred in the liturgy as well as in 
the social and personal lives of the laity. 

The Phoenix and the Flame fills a lacuna in Spanish historiography insofar as there 
exists no social history of Catalonia, nor even a general history of the Catalan Church. In 
reconstructing Counter-Reformation Catalan society, Kamen relies on archival docu- 
ments, printed books of the period, and sources relating to traditional culture and folklore. 
He judiciously uses only those Castillian-language works read in Catalonia during the 
Counter Reformation, and approaches with caution studies in folklore based on modem 
observations of the customs of rural Catalonia. Among the myriad of subjects analyzed 
are religious festivals and songs, book trading and printing processes, developments in 
sermonology, the debate over the Catalan language, and the rise of the Jesuits. 

According to Kamen, pre-Tridentine Catalan Catholicism was largely non-clerical 
and non-sacramental, tied to agrarian rituals and community needs. While religion in 
Catalonia remained grounded in the community throughout the early modem period, in 
post-Tridentine society the sacraments became the comerstone of Catholic spirituality. 
As a result of the increased emphasis on penance and communion, the priests came to play 
a more integral role in the lives of the people. It was in matrimony, however, that the 
Counter Reformation had the greatest impact on Catalans and Spaniards. 

During the medieval period most marriages occurred outside the Church, and 
though since the tenth century a religious ceremony had been obligatory, by the early 
sixteenth century the majority of marriages were still "clandestine." As a consequence 
of the Counter reformation, marriage ceased to be regarded as a natural or human 
contract, and became first and foremost a sacrament. The upshot, according to Kamen, 
is that an unchanging Catholic morality never existed. Despite the insistence of 
religious writers of the period, Catholic morality was in a process of continual 

82 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

development. What is striking is that in articulating its ethical stance the Counter- 
Reformation Church, and ultimately the State, found it necessary to intrude in the most 
intimate aspects of private life. 

In The Phoenix and the Flame Kamen exposes numerous historical misconcep- 
tions about early modern Catalonia and the Church. He demonstrates that the 
Inquisition was not a primary instrument of the Catalan Counter Reformation, and that 
throughout its 300-year history it intervened in only ten percent of the towns and 
villages of the region. Change, moreover, was slow, and even in the late seventeenth 
century areas in Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain were described as "Indies" requiring 
further Christianization. Based on the example of Catalonia, Kamen concludes that the 
Counter Reformation did not make Spain a militant nation bent on imposing orthodoxy 
on the rest of Europe nor a fortress closed to the outside world. This picture of the 
country is bound to raise considerable discussion and lead to further inquiry. Without 
doubt. The Phoenix and the Flame will come to be seen as a watershed in the 
historiography of the early modem period. 

ROBERT RICHMOND ELLIS, Occidental College 

Logique et littérature à la Renaissance. Actes du Colloque de la Baume-les- 
Aix, Université de Provence, 6-18 septembre 1991, sous la direction deMarie- 
Luce Demonet-Launay et André Toumon. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1 994. Pp. 


Félicitons tous d'abord les responsables de cette rencontre méditerranéenne: c'est en 
effet la première fois, à ma connaissance, que les deux termes de "logique" et de 
"littérature" étaient associés pour qu'ils favorisent les seiziémistes, invités à projeter 
un regard neuf sur certaines productions de la Renaissance. Le terme de logique ayant 
été pris par les uns au sens large (comprenant la rhétorique et ses figures), par les autres 
en un sens plus étroit (la logique que nous appelons aujourd'hui formelle), on a pu 
étudier l'antithèse dans la Délie de Maurice Scève (Françoise Charpentier), l'origine 
du mot "maxime" (Francis Goyet), le lieu commun chez Melanchton (Kees Meerhoff) 
ou r"art des opposés" chez Bovelles (Jean-Claude Margolin). Une notion, qui n'est 
pas d'ordre spécifiquement logique, comme Vacedia, "autour de laquelle" médite 
Yves Pouilloux, trouve son emploi dans une lecture assez neuve de Bovelles, et 
notamment de ses deux traités, le De Sapiente et le De Nihilo. V acedia, selon Bovelles 
et toute une tradition chrétienne, est le pire des péchés par lequel l'homme succombe 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 83 

au néant et finit par s' identifier à lui. L' homme est devenu déraisonnable dans sa raison 
même. Or le renversement des valeurs opéré par saint Paul et par le De Nihilo ne veut- 
il pas que l'homme, l'ascète, soit déraisonnable, pour atteindre ce "vide parfait" où 
Dieu occuperait toute la place? 

Plus directement attaché à la logique formelle qui prend toute sa place dans L'Art 
des opposés, Jean-Claude Margolin entreprend une exégèse de ce texte, en en 
soulignant l'influence néo-pythagoricienne et cusaine. 

Un auteur, assez peu connu, même des seiziémistes, est ce Philippe Canaye, 
auteur de L'organe, c'est-à-dire l'instrument du discours, inspiré, bien entendu, de 
VOrganon d'Aristote, dont Marie-Luce Demonet étudie à la fois la filiation à travers 
la "logique française" de la seconde moitié du seizième siècle (Scaliger, Périon, 
Grouchy, Antoine Gouvea) et même les contradictions inhérentes à ce discours 
persuasif: les difficultés rencontrées par Canaye pour établir une jonction entre le 
syllogisme hypothétique et le syllogisme analytique montrent combien "le prosélyte 
a intérêt à ce que s'estompe la différence entre le catégorique et le probable en matière 
religieuse." En effet, la foi ne peut se limiter au vraisemblable. 

C'est à une logique de la différence dans les traités d'histoire de la fin de la 
Renaissance que fait appel Philippe Desan, à partir de Bodin, de Loys Le Roy, de La 
Popelinière, pour conclure que le relativisme historique est le résultat logique de 
l'entreprise comparatiste de l'historien. 

De la logique de la différence, on passe à celle du probable avec Sandra Vulcan, 
qui nous propose une étude comparative de devis de VHeptaméron et d'un dialogue 
du seizième siècle (ce dialogue étant une sottie évangélique proche de V Inquisiteur, 
ou du Trop, Prou, Peu, Moins de Marguerite de Navarre). Si la démarche rationnelle 
des devis, qui part de l'incertain, aboutit à un probable plus certain au terme d'un 
cheminement complexe vers la vérité, la sottie comprend trois étapes, où l' argumentation 
est constituée de deux positions antithétiques sur le mode de la controverse. 

Une étude très fouillée d'un sonnet italien de Domenico Venerio entraîne Pierre 
Lusson sur la voie complexe, ouverte par le Centre de Poétique Comparée, pour établir 
toute une série de corrélations, le 'squelette rythmique" du sonnet. La physionomie du 
vers avec ses coupures syntaxiques, ses récurrences phoniques, la nature des "peignes" 
et autres considérations graphiques et numérologiques qui permettent peut-être 
d'analyser plus finement ou "scientifiquement" la structure du poème, . . . mais qui 
n'aident pas à son appréciation esthétique! 

Gilles Polizzi , grand connaisseur du songe de Poliphile et de Béroalde de verville, 
étudie ce qu'il appelle r"espace conceptuel dans la fiction de la Renaissance: étude 
fine et bien documentée, mais qui se rattache davantage à la textologie qu' à une analyse 
des rapports entre logique et littérature. En revanche, Francis Goyet est au coeur de la 
problématique tirée des deux termes mêmes du thème proposé pour le colloque, en 
étudiant l'origine logique du mot "maxime." Nous avons, en effet, assez souvent 
oublié que ce mot, que nous prenons au sens de sentence, adage ou proverbe, a en fait 

84 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

une origine très logique, puisqu'il vient du latin juridique, maxima {sententià) et, plus 
haut encore, du concept de maxima propositio, inventé par Boèce. Il est donc au 
fondement de la logique médiévale. Celle-ci ne s 'arrêtant pas en 1500, c'est à une 
rigoureuse excursion dialectique, qui nous conduit jusqu'à la fin du dix-huitième 
siècle (et même au-delà), que nous invite pour notre grande satisfaction intellectuelle 
l'auteur de ce texte. 

Entre le langage, la littérature et la logique, non seulement les ponts sont d'un 
usage qui nous est devenu familier, mais ils nous font aussi accéder à des mines 
littéraires d'une extraordinaire richesse, comme le montre la communication de Jan 
Miernowski, qui nous fait tout d'abord connaître Jean Demons, sieur d'Héricourt, qui 
démontre, dans la lignée de Passerat, l'existence d'une "quintessence tirée du quart de 
rien et de ses dépendances contenant les préceptes de la saincte Magie et devote 
invocation." Au début, on dirait du Raymond Devos. Par la suite, le commentateur de 
Demons, mettant de l'ordre dans le fouillis de ses idées, étudie les trois approches de 
l'opposition fondamentale (logique et métaphysique) de Dieu et du Néant: la magie, 
l'allégorie et l'apophasie. 

Les autres conununications de ce précieux recueil ne sont pas moins originales 
que celles que nous avons brièvement caractérisées. Mais la place nous manquant pour 
leur accorder leur dû, que les auteurs nous pardonnent de les mentionner seulement, 
avec leurs titres: Pierre Lardet ("Appareil théorique et lecture des auteurs chez J.-C. 
Scaliger"), Michel Liddle ("logiques, grammaires, grammairiens et littérature"), 
Yves Délègue ("La digression ou l'oralité dans l'écriture"), Catherine Demure 
("L' Utopie de Thomas More: entre logique et chronologie, l'enjeu du sens"), et André 
Tournon, l'un de nos meilleurs montaignistes contemporains, et auteur, par ailleurs, 
d'une édition du Moyen de parvenir do, Béroalde de Verville ("Le maniement logique 
de l'illogisme, de Montaigne à Verville"). 

Un index des noms et des notions complète fort heureusement cet ensemble de 
16 articles-communications, sans oublier la présentation générale de Marie-Luce 
Demonet ("Du bizarre à V assurection'') et l'épilogue, confié à Terence Cave, qui a 
laissé le dernier mot à Montaigne, qui oscille, selon lui, "entre la joie capiteuse de 
l'aventure sceptique, qui mène on ne sait où, et un profond besoin d'ordre, d'une 
mesure commune." 

JEAN-CLAUDE MARGOLIN, Université de Tours 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 85 

Collected Works of Erasmus, Volume II: The Correspondence of Erasmus: 
Letters 1535 to 1557 (1525), translated by Alexander Dalzell, annotated by 
Charles G. Nauert, Jr. Toronto, Buffalo and London: University of Toronto 
Press, 1994. Pp. xxiv, 476. 

Collected Works of Erasmus, Volume 56: Annotations on Romans, edited by 
Robert D. Sider, translated and annotated by John B. Payne, Albert Rabil, Jr., 
Robert D. Sider, and Warren S. Smith, Jr. Toronto, Buffalo and London: 
University of Toronto Press, 1994. Pp. xviii, 480. 

These two recent offerings from the Collected Works of Erasmus (CWE) bring forth 
treasures old and new from the University of Toronto Press's enterprise of producing 
English translations of the works of the famous Renaissance humanist. CWE 1 1 , 
containing all the extant letters which Erasmus wrote and received in 1525, continues 
the long-standing project of publishing and annotating his correspondence. CWE 56 
marks a new venture in the scholarly editing of Erasmus' works, for it makes available 
for the first time a modern English scholarly edition of one part of the greatest 
monument to Erasmus' biblical scholarship, the Annotations on the New Testament. 
This volume, comprising Erasmus' notes on Paul's Epistle to the Romans, is the first 
to appear in a series of ten volumes (CWE 51-60) to be devoted to the Annotations. 
Previously, the Annotations were only accessible in their original editions and in 
volume 6 of Leclerc's 1703 edition of Erasmus' Opera Omnia. More recently, Anne 
Reeve and Michael A. Screech have produced facsimiles of the final 1535 edition, 
noting the changes Erasmus made in the four earlier editions of 1 5 1 6, 1 5 1 9, 1 522, and 

In his preface to CWE 1 1 Charles Nauert points out that during 1525 "Erasmus 
sat uneasily at Basel, apparently not even venturing outside the city to make the sort 
of social calls he hasd made to Porrentruy and Besançon in the spring of 1524" (p. xi). 
While he suffered from the wrenching pain of kidney stones, thousands of peasants 
were in armed revolt against princes and cites in Germany and Switzerland. From time 
to time he mentions the peasant uprisings and laments the resulting gruesome 

Erasmus, however, was far more troubled by attacks on his own theological 
reputation. He repeatedly lashed out at the stupidity of his Catholic critics, who were 
eager to denounce him as a heretic. In particular, Pierre Cousturier (Petrus Sutor), a 
Carthusian monk who had studied theology at the Sirbonne, provoked Erasmus' wrath 
in 1525 by openly condemning all new translations of the Bible, including Erasmus' 
revision of the Vulgate. In Noël Béda, syndic of the Faculty of Theology in Paris, 
Erasmus had a much more formidable opponent than Cousturier. Béda and rasmus 
began corresponding in 1525. Their letters represent the initial skirmishes in the 
sharpening theological conflict between Erasmus and the Paris theologians. 

86 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Erasmus had to contend with more than simply his CathoHc critics. He was wary 
of the opinions of Basel's Reform leaders, especially those of Johannes Oecolampadius 
and Conradus Pellicanus. Ten years earlier both men had been his colleagues in 
biblical and patristic scholarship; now they were claiming that he shared their 
Sacramentarian views on the Eucharist. Erasmus was impressed by Oecolampadius' 
arguments but promised Michel Boudet, Bishop of Langres, that he would publish a 
refutation of his Eucharistie doctrine. Although Erasmus never kept his promise, his 
adherence to the Catholic belief in the Real Presence lay behind his angry rejection of 
Pellicanus' friendship. 

The letters of CWE 1 1 show Erasmus' preoccupation with his poor health and his 
sensitivity to theological conflict into which Catholics and Protestants seemed to be 
dragging him. These letters, however, also reveal a more complete picture of the life 
of the scholar who did not let his worries about the adverse effect of religious strife on 
the study of humane letters interfere with his efforts at continuing old acquaintances 
and pursuing new contacts among like-minded humanists. To his old friend, the 
Niimberg humanist Willibald Pirckheimer, he dedicated his edition of John Chrisostom' s 
De officio sacerdotis, and he asked Pirckheimer to relay his greetings to Albrecht 
Diirer. In 1525 Erasmus tried to begin a friendship with Marguerite d' Angoulême, the 
famous patron of French humanists and evangelicals and the sister of King Francis I, 
but, as Nauert surmises, she never took up Erasmus' offer of friendship "apparently 
because she thought his approach to religion too rationalistic and too little sensitive to 
the need of grace" (p. 285). Erasmus had greater success in cultivating friendships and 
patronage in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland. Erasmus' letter to Andrzej Krzycki, 
the Bishop of Przemsyl, drew an enthusiastic response in which Krzycki, after 
declaring his "undying affection and devotion" (p. 388) for Erasmus, invited him to 
visit Poland. 

In his first letter to Béda Erasmus announced that he was preparing a fourth 
edition of his New Testament, which he eventually published in 1527. His New 
Testament consisted of three parts: the Greek text, his revision of the Vulgate Latin 
translation, and most importantly, from the standpoint of his own scholarship and of 
the interests of modem research, the Annotations. The translators of CWE 56 state that 
they "have attempted to render the Latin as literally as English prose will allow" (p. 
xv). Each note begins with the reference to the relevant passage in Romans (chapter 
and verse), with Erasmus' revision in Latin and in English translation of the Vulgate, 
and with the original Vulgate text in Latin and in English. Then follows Erasmus' 
explanation. Most of these explanations are very brief, but some turn into short essays. 

CWE 56 is more than a mere translation, however. It is an exceptional work of 
scholarship. Just as Erasmus' notes embody his biblical erudition, so too the notes in 
CWE 56 to each of Erasmus' notes display the painstakingly thorough research of the 
annotators. The exact references to Erasmus' patristic sources and to the works of the 
scholastic theologians whom he cites are especially valuable since Erasmus rarely 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 87 

provides these references himself. The annotators also point out the changes — usually 
amplifications — that Erasmus incorporated into the expanding editions of his notes 
and present the necessary historical and theological context of the many exegetical 
problems Erasmus raises and attempts to answer. 

ThQ Annotations on Romans allow us an impressive and detailed view of Erasmus 
the consummate philologist, who concludes one of his notes: "For my part, I am 
striving in this exposition to ascertain especially those things which contribute to a 
sound reading" (p. 202). He points out both the elegance and ambiguities of the original 
Greek text, compares variant readings in Latin and Greek codices as well as in the 
commentaries of the Church Fathers, and discusses the shades of meanings of Greek 
and Latin words. He constantly takes the Vulgate translator to task for his errors in 
grammar and translation, although on a rare occasion he can write that "the Translator 
has conveyed the sense well" (p. 176). Not surprisingly, Erasmus chides scholastic 
theologians, including Thomas Aquinas, for their misinterpretations. While he usually 
has good things to say about the philological judgments of Lorenzo Valla, whose 
Annotations on the New Testament he discovered and published in 1 505, he occasion- 
ally registers his disagreement with his humanist counterpart in France, Jacques 
Lefèvre d'Étaples. Again and again Erasmus enlists the Church Fathers as his allies 
when justifying his translations. His favourites are Origen, Ambrosiaster, Chrysostom, 
and Theophylact, whom he mentions more frequently than Jerome and Augustine. 

At times philology can lead to theological apologetics and homiletic or moraliz- 
ing statements. In the note on Romans 5: 12 (pp. 139-151), the longest discussion in 
the Annotations on Romans, the correct translation of a Greek preposition lies at the 
heart of Erasmus' insistence against his detractors that this particular passage cannot 
be used to justify the doctrine of original sin. Other philological considerations 
develop into rebukes of his fellow Christians for their many vices and superstitions. 

Both CWE 1 1 and 56 present excellent, readable translations of Erasmus' Latin. 
They will facilitate scholarly research and give non-specialists the opportunity to 
discover and understand more thoroughly the life and work of Erasmus as the leading 
scholar of the Northern Renaissance. 

HILMAR M. PABEL, Simon Fraser University 

88 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Allen G. Debus. The French Paracelsians: The Chemical Challenge to 
Medical and Scientific Tradition in Early Modem France. Cambridge: Cam- 
bridge University Press, 1991. Pp. 247. 

A specialist of the Paracelsian tradition, Allen G. Debus has followed it throughout 
Europe in works such as The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine 
in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1977) and Man and Nature in the 
Renaissance (1987), as well as papers concerning Spain, Portugal and even the 
Ottoman Empire. His latest work examines the history of Paracelsianism in France, where 
it played a particularly complex and prolonged part in the evolution of chemistry. At the 
beginning of the sixteenth century, Arabic medical texts were being replaced by Galenic 
translations, humanism's contribution to medicine, along with the Corpus Hermeticum, 
which stressed the relatedness of macrocosm and microcosm in the unity of the universe, 
a view also held by Paracelsus (1493- 1 54 1 ) himself. By the middle of the century a strong 
disagreement erupted between the followers of Paracelsus, who considered themselves 
as innovators, and the French medical establishment, notably the Faculty of Medicine of 
the University of Paris, which held fast to the Galenic tradition. Debus examines the entire 
mass of textual evidence, which stems from many French and Swiss cities in addition to 
Paris, and spreads well into the eighteenth century. 

Two complementary aspects of the history of Paracelsianism are discussed by 
Debus in conjunction with each other: the scientific aspect which shows an important 
phase of the indirect, indeed tortuous process whereby chemistry became a medical 
science, and finally a science in its own right; and the political and institutional 
struggles which constantly opposes the Paracelsians to established authority in matters 
of medical theory as well as practice. 

This double inquiry means that throughout the book the author presents to the 
reader valuable information about many Paracelsian thinkers and practitioners with 
their intellectual commonalities, but also their individual stories of obstinate resistance 
in the name of their own vision of the truth. But he also relates the paradoxical story 
of an intellectual movement, the consequences of which, in the end, contributed to the 
scientific revolution, although initially it was, if anything, "counter-revolutionary;" 
and it is this story which in our view constitutes the kernel of originality of this book. 

The Galenists and the Paracelsians disagreed, first of all, about the nature of the 
cosmos; the former continued to rely on the Aristotelian system, and more particularly 
on the four elements in nature (corresponding to the four humours in human body). The 
Paracelsians saw God as the Creator of both the macrocosm and the microcosm; 
knowledge of the organic is therefore linked to that of the inorganic. The same principles 
underlie all reality — they are sulphur, mercury and salt — and alchemy is the science 
which gives access to these. On a more practical level, the Galenists continued to prescribe 
medicinal plants; the Paracelsians practised distillation, attempted to obtain transmuta- 
tion of metals, and prescribed metals and minerals as remedies, including aurumpotabile 
and antimony, which was considered poisonous by the French authorities. 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 89 

The controversies were endless because there was little, if any, common ground 
between the two sets of beliefs. Each side claimed dramatic cures; each accused the 
other side of killing patients. On the Paracelsian side, knowledge of chemical 
phenomena that were potentially useful to medicine was slowly gaining ground; but 
it was almost always accompanied, and therefore impeded, by the complete displays 
of Paracelsian dogma, including belief in physiognomy and chiromancy. Such was, 
among many others, the case of Roch Le Bailliff, sieur de la Rivière, who pointed to 
cures by chemists of such diseases as leprosy, dropsy, paralysis, and gout. He became 
"médecin ordinaire" to Henry III, tried his hand at describing the plague, and human 
anatomy. The Faculty of Medicine of Paris managed to halt his medical practice and 
his lectures. During his trial he did not adhere to chemical problems but took every 
opportunity to defend the Paracelsian philosophy. Others, such as Claude Dariot 
(1533-1594), denied that there was any fundamental conflict between thought of 
Paracelsus and that of Hippocrates and Galen; and concentrated (in his Treatise on the 
Preparation of Medicines) on describing practical chemical techniques and actual 
chemical procedures for the Paracelsian preparations. But he too claimed that the 
medical benefits of chemistry were inseparable from the principles of alchemy. 

And so, the dialogue of the deaf is extended into the seventeenth century, when 
alchemical treatises continue to be translated and published in abundance. Marin 
Mersenne ( 1 588- 1648) attempts to break the deadlock in a Cartesian way, by affirming 
the mathematical basis of all natural phenomena, and therefore the necessity to 
understand the proportions among all components of chemical bodies. This would 
amount to stripping alchemy of its "religious overtones and mystical analogies" (p. 
73); also, to extending the mathematical treatment to all substances. It was Guy de la 
Brosse, founder of the Jardin des Plantes research institution, who most cogently 
advocated the pharmaceutical use of both metallic and botanical substances. Chemistry 
became widely taught, but was still excluded from the curriculum of the Paris Faculty of 
Medicine. The cure of Louis XTV (1658) with vin émétique led to the acceptance of 
antimony as a remedy. At this point, chemistry still had an instrumental status within 
medicine. Its next conquest, pioneered by Jean Baptiste van Helmont (1579-1644) was 
that of physiology: the human body itself is the locus of transmutations and its processes 
are subject to quantification. But van Helmont also held views (e.g. about the existence 
of a universal medicine) which in the end identified him with the Paracelsian philosophy. 

Increasingly, however, chemistry would be taught as an experimental science, along 
with (or despite) lip service to the Paracelsian world view; it would gradually establish 
itself as a system for explaining physiological processes, first in contradistinction to 
medical mechanism, though at times, as in the work of Vieussens ( 1 635- 1 7 1 5) on blood, 
in combination with it. The Paracelsian tradition would survive during the Age of 
Enlightenment as a separate phenomenon, less and less related to the specifically 
chemical developments to which, as Debus well demonstrates, it had given rise along the 

EVA KUSHNER, University of Toronto 

90 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

David R. Carlson. English Humanist Books: Writers and Patrons, Manuscript 
and Print, 1475-1525. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 
1993. Pp. X, 275. 

Mary Thomas Crane. Framing Authority: Sayings, Self, and Society in 
Sixteenth-Century England. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Pp. 

Both these books share what has become in recent years a prevailing desire to 
humanize the humanists, as it were: to remind us that humanists did not live by 
Ciceronian sententiae alone, but required bread and were obliged to develop elaborate 
strategies of salesmanship in order to secure it. While this unromantic vision of the 
humanists has always existed — it was first expressed by contemporaries who felt their 
own social and political franchise endangered — the work of Anthony Grafton and 
Lisa Jardine, in particular, has provided a fresh impetus to see Renaissance humanism 
in all its glorious confusion of mixed motives, uncertain results, and scrappy oppor- 
tunism. Yet neither of the books under review proposes a mere subversion of humanist 
activity. Rather, both authors complicate the essential tools of the working humanist: 
the carefully crafted volumes presented to actual or potential patrons; the printed texts 
that spread an author's fame; the commonplace books that represented years of 
gathering and framing (seeming mundane techniques that Mary Thomas Crane 
transforms into something rich and strange). However different their approaches and 
concerns, Carlson and Crane are immersed in the physical materials of humanist 
endeavour and it is their concern with "matter" — in more than one sense — that 
enriches and problematizes their critical projects. 

English Humanist Books is "a book about books: why they were made the way 
they were and how they were used" (p. 1) in the crucial period when print and 
humanism were beginning to transform the cultural landscape of Europe. For Carlson, 
the various fabrications of the humanist text illuminate the relations between the hired 
intellectual and his masters. The elaborations of its physical form — inexpensive 
manuscripts intended for private circulation, deluxe presentation manuscripts, the 
range of printed texts and the curious hybrids where print and manuscript mimicked 
each other — serve as a graded scale on which to construct a sociology of humanist 
exchange. In this system, social inequities complicated scholarly ones and Carlson 
explores the ways in which these seekers of employment tried, with varying success, 
to exploit a patron's sometimes whimsical need to follow intellectual fashion and to 
engage in acts of conspicuous consumption. For the humanist a well-timed and well- 
wrought textual gift could be a crucial investment. Since patrons favoured richly 
appointed manuscripts, there was the inherent risk of any speculative market, but 
courting a patron empty-handed was simply a non-starter. 

Carlson proceeds by means of a series of case studies. Relatively obscure figures 
like Filippo Alberici, who presented a lovely manuscript to Henry VII that demon- 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 91 

strated his skills as poet and translator but failed to gain him a position, stand side by 
side with such titans as More or Erasmus whose collaboration on the Epigrammata of 
1518, Carlson argues, marked a vital chapter in More' s own hterary self-fashioning. 
Whatever their fame, these figures — which also include Pietro Carmeliano, Bernard 
André, Robert Whittington, and William Lily — are bound together by metaphysical 
imperative and material means: the need to cast themselves as attractive public figures 
worthy of preferment; and dependence on the fluid physis of book as first gambit in the 
patronal negotiation. 

Carlson is at his best in discriminating the complex material significances of the 
book. While he builds on an abundance of prior work in this area, his anatomy of the 
manufacture and the immediate fate of particular books has the always appealing 
freshness of specificity : even a humanist as ephemeral as Alberici flickers to life as we 
watch his suit fail and, through a few well-chosen illustrations, feel his palpable 
gesture towards an indifferent monarch. Moreover, by grounding a good part of his 
reading in the court of Henry VII, Carlson revises a scholarly bias that privileges the 
court of his son. 

Yet if English Humanist Books succeeds in making its readers aware of how 
certain material objects embodied a humanist's ambitions and in refining our view of 
an earlier Henrician court, it finally fails in making books or courts sufficiently 
problematical entities. For all its impressive particularity, the argument is virtually 
innocent of the kinds of theorizing about the nature of the book, the innovation of print, 
and the complexities of court mobility that have made these topics so vital in recent 
years. This is not a plea for theory as such, but a "book about books" that has more than 
antiquarian interest yet fails to engage theoretical problems of author and text seems, 
in these days, curiously incomplete. The very materiality of these humanist books, so 
carefully read by Carlson on one level, surely demands a more self-consciously 
theorized analysis of their status as aristocratic ornament or collection along the lines 
of recent work by Patricia Fumerton and Susan Stewart. On a broader scale, some 
attempt to consider the book as a conceptual entity — as Jesse Gellrich undertook to 
do for the Middle Ages — would have been welcome. This book succeeds in binding 
humanists to their writings in a viscerally satisfying way: as subjects defined largely 
by objects with a real look, feel, and smell; yet it also raises tantalizing questions of 
how such objects as these are to be understood apart from their seductive material 

If Carlson declines to theorize the objects of his investigation — whether books 
or their humanist authors — Mary Thomas Crane, in Framing Authority, immediately 
engages the question of theory . Indeed, her study is informed by an impassioned desire 
to prove that English humanism "possessed greater theoretical sophistication, mani- 
fested a more complex and problematized ideological stance . . . than has generally 
been recognized" (p. 7). Yet she also appreciates the difficulty of applying theory to 
early Renaissance writing and offers her work as a temperate model: "it has neverthe- 
less seemed possible, particularly at this historical moment, to achieve some measure 

92 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

of internal distantiation, to stand as it were between the theoretical systems of our age 
and the previous one in order to see, however partially, our common past" (p. 11). 
Borrowing from a host of theoretical sources, while never losing sight of "the English 
Renaissance in all its otherness" (p. 199), Crane negotiates between different worlds 
of discursive theory with unfailing delicacy. 

Crane proposes to rethink the place and problem of the commonplace, or "saying" 
(the neutral term she favours over adage, aphorism, sentence, etc.), in early Renais- 
sance England: what were the implications of the humanist obsession with the 
"gathering" and "framing" of such sayings? For Crane, these common practices imply 
a theory of reading that envisioned texts like the Aeneid, not as the brilliant narrative 
wholes we modem cherish, but as networks of pithy moral fragments to be culled, 
collected, and imbibed. Crane reconsiders humanist pedagogy and the fruits of that 
schooling in the commonplace books themselves to prove her point. Armed with this 
definition of the humanist reader as a kind of elite hunter-gatherer, she suggests that 
this self-effacing, communal mode of reading — self-effacing as readers become 
repositories of discretely generated texts; communal as prospective humanists gather 
what will become the wisdom of the tribe — subverts the ideal of individualized 
authorship that has abided in the modem period and against which the various 
postmodern deconstructions of the Author have been undertaken. 

The result of mapping the techniques and ideology of the saying — a journey that 
leads through logic and rhetoric handbooks as well as commonplace books — is a 
bifurcated vision of Renaissance authorship that divides along lines of class and 
culture: a humanist ideal of the author as scholarly conduit, civil advisor, and model 
of reticent selfhood; an aristocratic ideal of the author as freely self-determined, 
distinctly individualized, a model of emotional, personalized expression. This broad 
dichotomy does little justice to the care and insight with which Crane constmcts her 
meticulous scheme of early Renaissance authorship; and, while such radically op- 
posed definitions are important to her analysis, it is the dialectic between them that 
truly concerns her. Having erected a model of the Renaissance writer sensitive to the 
specific nature of texts, to differences in class, and to the vexed problem of selfhood, 
she proceeds to detail its implications for a variety of texts from the documents that 
were the ammunition in the Grammarians' War to Sidney ' s Defense SindAstrophil and 
Stella; and even to trace its influence on William Cecil, Lord Burghley, in whom the 
ideals of humanist and aristocratic ideology were merged — to the frustration of those 
who sought his favour. In these various figures. Crane considers how the humanist 
project "shaped the discursive practices of the period" (p. 115). 

While all the readings in Framing Authority illuminate familiar as well as 
unfamiliar texts from a fresh perspective — a few pages on More' s Utopia, for 
example, manage to shift the standard terms of the debate over that work — two 
extended readings stand out. Crane breathes new life into the "drab age" poetic 
miscellanies that always fall into the cracks of classroom lecture and literary history. 
Rather than seek for the seeming poetic pearls among largely sententious and 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 93 

depersonalized verse, Crane celebrates the sententiousness of the sixteenth-century 
miscellany, revives its humanist roots, and restores something of its original ideologi- 
cal complexity and cultural richness. Her consideration of Sidney enhances his 
aesthetic and social liminality, read in the shadow of Lord Burghley, Astrophil and 
Stella comes into focus as a political project in which "Sidney uses a quasi-fictional 
love affair in order both to rebel against Burghley and to forge a version of the 
aristocratic self that contains, but is not contained by, the humanist ethical frame" (p. 

Much of the force oi Framing Authority lies in its author's brilliantly successful 
attempt to recuperate, not only a series of texts, but the very fragments of the textual 
past that constitute their substance. By investing the saying with a new kind of 
interpretative weight — by seeing in humble sententiousness a theory of composition, 
an ideology of selfhood, and a subtle politics of authorship — Crane also effects a 
complex canonical revision: obscure texts are revalued and familiar texts newly 
esteemed. Moreover, and not the least of her accomplishments. Crane offers an elegant 
corrective to the work of Stephen Greenblatt and Thomas Greene: complicating the 
terms of sixteenth-century self-fashioning by clarifying the humanist concept of the 
"socially constituted subject" (p. 6); and re-asserting a form of Renaissance imitatio 
largely decried in The Light in Troy. It is a measure of her book that it can engage these 
influential arguments with a complementary subtlety and richness. In Crane, the 
humanist enterprise, much criticized and even demeaned in recent years, reassumes its 
seminal status; less as a pedagogical project, political program, or cultural reawaken- 
ing (though doubtless it was all these), than as a crucial framework for the forging of 
the modern subject. 

SAMUEL GLEN WONG, Simon Fraser University 


Spanish and Hispanic-American Archival Sciences 

The Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies announces its Summer Institute 
in the Spanish and Hispanic- American Archival Sciences, from June 24 to August 2, 
1996. The institute will provide training in the reading of manuscripts from the 
hispanic tradition. The course will be conducted in Spanish by Prof. Consuelo Varela. 
For more information, please contact the Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry 
Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610-3380, USA. 

Visiting Humanities Fellowships 

Applications are invited for Visiting Humanities Fellowships, tenable at the Univer- 
sity of Windsor (Canada) in the 1996-1997 academic year. Scholars with research 
projects in traditional humanities disciplines or in theoretical, historical or philosophi- 
cal aspects of the sciences, social sciences, and arts, are invited to apply. Please write 
to Prof. Jacqueline Murray, Humanities Research Group, University of Windsor, 401 
Sunset Avenue, Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4. 

Société Canadienne d'Études de la Renaissance 

Le prochain congrès annuel de la Société Canadienne d'Études de la Renaissance aura 
lieu du 26 au 28 mai 1996 à l'Université Brock, St. Catharines (Ontario). Pour de plus 
amples renseignements, veuillez écrire à Elizabeth Sauer, Department of English, 
Brock University, St. Catharines (Ontario) L2S 3A1. 

Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies 

The Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies will hold its next conference from May 
26 to 28, 1996 at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario. For more information on 
the conference, please contact Prof. Elizabeth Sauer, Department of English, Brock 
University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1. 

96 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Critical Approaches to English Prose Fiction 

The Barnabe Riche Society sponsors an international conference on the subject of 
comparative critical approaches to English prose fiction ( 1 520- 1 640). The conference 
will be held May 9-11, 1997 at Carleton University, Ottawa. For information on the 
conference, please write to Prof. Douglas Wurtele, Department of English, Carleton 
University, Ottawa, Ontario KIS 5B6. 

Le Beau au temps de la Renaissance 

La revue Carrefour vient de publier un numéro spécial sur les catégories du Beau à 
l'époque de la Renaissance. Ce numéro spécial est dirigé par le prof. Donald Beecher. 
La revue Carrefour est disponible à l'adresse suivante: Département de Philosophie, 
Université d'Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario KIN 6N5. 

The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition 

"The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition: Alterations, Adaptations, Alternatives" is 
the theme of the Eleventh Biennial Conference of the International Society for the 
History of Rhetoric, to be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 22-26, 1997. For 
information, please write to Prof. Judith Rice Henderson, Department of English, 9 
Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saslatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5A5. E- 

The Faerie Queene in the World 

An international symposium on "The Faerie Queene in the World, 1596-1996'' is to 
be held at Yale University on 27-28 September 1996. For more information, please 
write to: Prof. Elizabeth Fowler, Department of English, Yale University, P.O. Box 
208302, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8302, USA. 

The Iconic Page 

"The Iconic Page in Manuscript, Print, and Digital Culture" is the title of a conference 
to be held on 11-12 October 1996 at the University of Michigan. For information, 
please contact: Prof. George Bomstein or Theresa Tinckle, Department of English, 
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1045, USA. E-mail: 
iconic:page @ 

Montaigne et l'imprimé 

La revue Montaigne Studies annonce la parution d'un numéro spécial intitulé 
"Montaigne in Print, 1 595- 1 995 ," sous la direction de Philippe Desan, Tilde Sankovitch 
et Ullrich Langer. Le prix unitaire de ce numéro est de 18$ US. Pour de plus amples 
renseignements sur ce numéro: Montaigne Studies, University of Chicago, 1050 East 
59th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. 

Recent Books 
Livres récents 

Katherine O. Acheson, éd. The Diary of Anne Clifford, 1616-1619: A Critical Edition. 
New York: Garland, 1995. 

Raymond A. Anselment. The Realms of Apollo: Literature and Healing in Seven- 
teenth-Century England. Newark: University of Delaware Press/ London: Associ- 
ated University Presses, 1995. 

Frank Ardolino. Apocalypse and Armada in Kyd's Spanish Tragedy. Kirksville, 
Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1995. 

Bryan Crockett. The Play of Paradox: Stage and Sermon in Renaissance England. 
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994. 

Normand Doiron. U art de voyager: le déplacement à l'époque classique. Sainte-Foy/ 
Paris: Presses de l'Université Laval/Klincksieck, 1995. 

William E. Engel. Mapping Mortality: The Persistence of Memory and Melancholy in 
Early Modem England. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. 

Desiderius Erasmus. Collected works 50: Paraphrase on Acts, ed. John J. Bateman, 
trans. Robert D. Sider. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. 

Claire Farago, ed. Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin 
America, 1450-1650. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. 

Alison Findlay. Illegitimate power: Bastards in Renaissance Drama. Manchester: 
Manchester University Press, 1995. 

98 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

W. Th. M. Frijhoff & M. Spies, eds. Drukkers, boekverkopers en lezers in Nederland 
tijdens de Republiek. The Hague: SDU Uitgevers, 1995. 

Carol F. Hefferman. The Melancholy Muse: Chaucer, Shakespeare and Early Medi- 
cine. Ithaca: Duquesne University Press, 1995. 

Craig A. Monson. Disembodied Voices: Music and Culture in an Early Modem Italian 
Convent. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. 

Steven Mullaney. The Place of the Stage: License, Play, and Power in Renaissance 
England. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 

Daniel Murphy. Comenius: A Critical Reassessment of his Life and Work. Dublin: 
Irish Academic Press, 1995. 

Paul R. Rovang. Refashioning "Knights and Ladies Deeds": The Intertextuality of 
Spenser's Faerie Queene and Malory's Morte Darthur. Cranbury: Farleigh 
Dickinson University Press, 1995. 

The editor welcomes submissions on any aspect of the Renaissance and the Reformation 
period. Manuscripts in duplicate should be sent to the editorial office: 

Renaissance and Reformation 
Department of French Studies 
University of Guelph 
Guelph, Ontario N1G2W1 

Submissions in English or in French are refereed. Please follow the MLA Handbook, with 
endnotes. Copyright remains the property of individual contributors, but permission to 
reprint in whole or in part must be obtained from the editor. 

The journal does not accept unsolicited reviews. However, those interested in reviewing 
books should contact the Book Review Editor. 

* * * 

La revue sollicite des manuscrits sur tous les aspects de la Renaissance et de la Réforme. 
Les manuscrits en deux exemplaires doivent être postés à l'adresse suivante: 

Renaissance et Réforme 
Département d'études françaises 
Université de Guelph 
Guelph (Ontario) N1G2W1 

Les textes en français ou en anglais seront soumis à l'évaluation externe. Veuillez vous 
conformer aux conventions textuelles habituelles, avec l'appareil de notes à la fin de votre 
texte. Les droits d'auteur sont la propriété des collaborateurs et collaboratrices; cependant, 
pour toute reproduction en tout ou en partie, on doit obtenir la permission du directeur. 

La revue sollicite ses propres comptes rendus. Si vous désirez rédiger des comptes rendus, 
veuillez communiquer directement avec le responsable de la rubrique des livres. 


SUMMER 1995 








'î^ h 


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Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference (PNWRC) 

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Summer / été 1995 (date of issue: July 1996) 

Canadian Publication Sales Agreement No. 0590762 ISSN 0034-429X 


Social Sciences 

New Series, Vol. XIX, No. 3 
Old Series, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 


Nouvelle Série, Vol XIX, No. 3 
Ancienne Série, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 





The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani in the Seve 
Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries 
by Douglas H. Parker 

Observations on Milton's Accents 
by John K. Hale 


Le dialogue de l'auteur et du lecteur dans La Sepmaine 

de Du Bartas 

par François Roudaut 


The Obedience due to Princes": Absolutism in Pseudo-Martyr 

by Phebe Jensen 

Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin 

par Yvan Morin 


Ernest Sullivan 11. The Influence of John Donne: His Uncollected 

Seventeenth Century Printed Verse; 

Anthony Raspa, ed. John Donne: Pseudo-Martyr 

reviewed by Judith Scherer Herz 


Richard Mulcaster. Positions Concerning the Training Up of Children, 

edited by William Barker 
reviewed by Kenneth J. E. Graham 


Daniel Martin. Montaigne and the gods 
reviewed by Cathleen M. Bauschatz 


André Turcat. Etienne Jamet alias Esteban Jamete, sculpteur français 
de la Renaissance en Espagne condamné par V Inquisition 

recensé par Bertrand Jestaz 

Linda Woodbridge. The Scythe of Saturn: Shakespeare 

and Magical Thinking 

reviewed by Graham Roebuck 







Voilà déjà quelques années que nous 
nous sommes remis à l'étude attentive 
du discours religieux à là Renaissance. 
Durant ses premières années de publi- 
cation, il semblait que Renaissance et 
Réforme, par son titre, chevauchait 
deux langages incompatibles. C'était, 
pour inverser le titre d'un ouvrage 
connu de Jean Lemaire de Belges, la 
discorde de deux langages. D'un côté, 
il y avait les poètes rhétoriqueurs, les 
dramaturges, les pamphlétaires; de 
l'autre, il y avait les commentateurs 
religieux et les réformateurs. Certains 
écrits renaissants souffraient ainsi 
d'une lecture schizophrénique: ainsi en 
était-il des oeuvres de John Donne, d'E- 
rasme, de Pic de la Mirandole, de Mar- 
guerite de Navarre, de John Milton, 
entre autres. Le présent numéro de Re- 
naissance et Réforme permet de mieux 
saisir la pertinence du discours reli- 
gieux à la Renaissance. Chez Du Bar- 
tas, il est le chemin d'une 
contemplation de l'origine. Chez 
Donne, une manière de se positionner 
par rapport aux autorités civiles. Chez 
Ficin, le christianisme trinitaire ne peut 
être dissocié du néoplatonisme. Chez 
Érasme, il est la base civilisatrice qui doit 
conditionner le nouveau pouvoir civil. Et 
chez Milton, une véritable vision intégrée 
du discours poétique. Et chez tous ces 
écrivains une profonde assimilation des 
tensions et des elucidations suscitées par 
la réflexion religieuse. 

For a number of years, the complexity of 
the reUgious discourse in the Renaissance 
has been the object of a renewed interest. 
When Renaissance and Reformation first 
appeared in the early 1970s, it seemed that 
the two fields of investigation suggested 
by the title of the journal were incompati- 
ble. It was, to parody the title of Jean 
Lemaire de Belges' s famous book, a 
story of discordance between two "lan- 
guages." On the one hand, one could find 
the rhetoricians and poets, the drama- 
tists, the pamphleteers; on the other, con- 
fined in their own preoccupations with 
salvation, the reformers and the mystics. 
Many Renaissance texts fell victim to 
our schizophrenia: so it was with John 
Donne, Erasmus, Pico della Mirandola, 
Marguerite de Navarre, John Milton, 
among many. This issue of Renaissance 
and Reformation allows us to understand 
the pertinence of religious knowledge in 
Renaissance thought. For Du Bartas, re- 
ligion is a pathway towards a true contem- 
plation of origin. For Donne, religious 
discourse is a way of positioning the polit- 
ical self. For Ficino, it is impossible to 
dissociate Christianity and neoplatonism. 
For Erasmus, the Bible is the civilizing 
force behind the socio-political order. And 
for Milton, the christian narrative leads to 
an integrated vision of poetry. In all these 
writers there is undoubtedly a profound 
assimilation of the tensions and insights 
produced by religious thought. 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /3 

The English Enchiridion 

Militis Christiani in the 

Seventeenth, Eighteenth, 

and Nineteenth Centuries 


Summary: Following earlier articles in Renaissance and Reformation and 
Erasmus in English, this paper examines the fate of Erasmus' s Enchiridion 
Militis Christiani in three late editions published in the seventeenth, eigh- 
teenth, and nineteenth centuries. Again in 1686, 1752, and 1816, Erasmus's 
work was called upon to support Catholic and Protestant convictions alike. 

In 1971 and again in 1973, I published in Erasmus in English and 
Renaissance and Reformation respectively, two articles in which I 
outlined the fate of the English translations oŒxdiSmyxs' s Enchiridion Militis 
Christiani} In the Erasmus in English article I showed how the first English 
translation of this work, published initially in 1533, became, over the course 
of some 40 years,^ a convenient propagandistic tool to enhance the various 
shades of Protestant and non-conformist belief. This interesting — and in 
some senses disquieting — metamorphosis of one of Erasmus's most im- 
portant works came about largely through selective and deliberate changes 
made to the original English translation, a translation which was itself quite 
faithful to the content and spirit of Erasmus's Latin text.^ As I examined the 
eight editions of this first translation published between 1538 and 1576 
where substantive changes were evident, it became clear that major editorial 
decisions had been taken to ensure that the English translation was truly 
reflecting — perhaps even helping to advance and propagate — signifîcant 
changes in the political-religious context of the times. 

In the Renaissance and Reformation article, I examined two other 
sixteenth-century English editions of the Enchiridion, the first. Miles 
Coverdale's 1545 abridgement of the first English translation; the second, 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /5 

6 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

another translation preceded by an inflammatory preface written by the 
Puritan preacher John Gough and published in 1561. In short, like the 
editions of the first translation published between 1538 and 1576, these two 
other sixteenth-century editions are remarkable for the liberties they took 
with the content, orientation, and spirit of Erasmus's original text. Once 
again, "selective editing" and/or propagandistic prefaces tumed the Enchi- 
ridion into a work designed to support divisive religious ideas that Erasmus 
— that tireless champion of Christian unity — could never have supported 
or endorsed. 

In this article, I intend to bring to a conclusion this study on the fate of 
the English Enchiridion Militis Christiani by examining three further edi- 
tions published in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century respec- 
tively. What one notices is that Erasmus's work — in an age well before 
anyone much cared about either the ethics of publishing or copyright — 
continues to be called upon to support various shades of religious conviction 
as it finds itself time and again at the mercy of latter-day Procrusteans. 

The political and religious events of the 1680s were to bring the English 
Enchiridion back into the Roman Catholic arena for the first time perhaps 
since the second edition of the first translation was published in February 
1534, some months before the Acts of Succession and Supremacy. James 
II's accession to the English throne in 1685 following the death of his 
Protestant brother Charles 11, was to initiate a religious controversy of no 
small proportions culminating in the revolution of 1688. James was well 
aware of England's hard fought struggle over the years to extirpate from its 
soil the Roman Catholic religion and to institutionalize Protestantism, and 
his adherence to the Church of Rome made his position as Catholic king over 
a Protestant country tenuous at best. His first speech to both Houses on 28 
May 1685 indicates both his awareness of the problem and his attempts to 
demonstrate his tolerance towards the state religion to which he could not 
personally subscribe: 

What I said to my Privy Council at my first coming there, I am desirous 
to renew to you; wherein I freely declare my Opinion concerning the 
Principles of the Church of England, whose Members have shown them- 
selves so eminently Loyal in the worst of Times, in Defence of my Father, 
and Support of my Brother, of Blessed Memory, that I will always take 
care to Support and Defend it. I will make it my Endeavour to preserve 
the Government, both in Church and State, as it is by Law Established.'* 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani 1 1 

James's attempts to maintain and support the Church of England while 
at the same time professing personal allegiance to its enemy the Pope is again 
evident in another address delivered on 4 April 1687. The title of the 
declaration — His Majesties Declaration to all His Loving Subjects for 
Liberty of Conscience^ — indicates his view towards religious tolerance. 
Doubtless he hoped that his magnanimous gesture would be returned in kind 
by his subjects. However, it was only a matter of time before this delicate 
balancing act on the King's part would fail. A number of things contributed 
to James's downfall. First was the vigorous anti-papal publication campaign 
occurring both before and during James's reign. Protestants were aware of 
the coming succession of a Catholic king and the presses were busy attempt- 
ing to head off the anomaly. Statements like the following were by no means 

All that you have now at stake, a King that is an Idolater makes his people 
like himself (as the many examples in the Old Testament will sufficiently 
illustrate) so that whosoever is for a Popish King, let their pretences be 
never so specious, is for Popery. And the Idolatry (which some miscall 
Religion) now exercised in old Rome, and the Laws of the Realm 
(whereby our liberties and properties are fenced and maintained) are 
inconsistent; the same hour your Religion is altered (which a Popish King 
[if ever God shall be pleased to punish us with such] will certainly effect) 
the same day the whole Law will be destroyed, and the English Nation 
will be reduced thereby to absolute slavery, under the most malicious 
Enemy it hath, furnished with a revengeful mind, which nothing but 
Slavery, Ruin and an Ocean of English Blood can satisfie.^ 

Another contributing factor resulting in the revolution of 1688 was 
James's own actions and policies as King. While ostensibly upholding 
religious liberty and deploring, for example, Louis XIV' s persecution of the 
Huguenots in France, James, through his policies, indicated his own true 
colours. Devoted to religious liberty for all, James, nevertheless, decided a 
great deal of this liberty in favour of Roman Catholics. He abolished those 
laws which prevented Catholics from attending their own services or forced 
them to attend Anglican services.^ In addition, a good many government 
officials and ministers were dismissed from office and replaced by those who 
shared James's Catholicism. E.N. Williams states that "Under James the king 
twisted the law in order to pack the administration and the armed forces with 
his Roman Catholic followers."^ Most disturbing must have been a renewed 
incursion of monastic orders in the very capitad itself. Throughout the early 

8 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

days of the Reformation, monasticism was generally reviled not only by the 
extreme reformers, but also by many moderates intent on purging the church 
of its more obvious abuses. As a result and throughout the entire period of 
reform, it became an easy target to shoot at. To see it being potentially 
re-bom from its own quite cold ashes under the auspices of the king himself 
must have been particularly galling to those who regarded it with fear and 
hatred. David Ogg states: 

Another form of penetration was seen in the large number of new religious 
establishments set up in London, to the horror of the populace. The 
Franciscans had their head-quarters in Lincoln's Inn Fields; the Carmel- 
ites had their convent in the city; the Benedictines were established in St. 
James's Palace, in the Savoy the Jesuits had a church and a school.^ 

By way of summary, Maurice Ashley adds: 

In the light of these measures it was natural that during the second half of 
1686 the conviction should grow among the subjects of King James that 
their monarch was plotting to impose his own religious views upon all of 

Not to be discounted or undervalued in any study of the reasons for James's 
eventual downfall is the question of fear, panic, and superstition amongst 
the general populace. Most historians are agreed that James did too little to 
prevent his own kingly demise. However, to this must be added those 
unmeasurable factors such as ingrained beliefs based on rumour, superstition 
and fear that play such a large part in human action and behaviour. In 
discussing some of the reasons for James's downfall Richard Boyer states 
that *The fear of Popery was very real to the Englishman of 1680. There 
was, perhaps, nowhere in Europe during the last quarter of the seventeenth 
century a group of people comparable, for boundless credulity, to the London 
populace."*' And as an example of this credulity Keith Thomas tells us that 
"James II was rumoured to have a magical hat, which would reveal the 
identity of those who plotted against him, and a Popish necromancer, who 
could control the winds and sink William of Orange's fleet."'^ 

The 1686 Translation 

The prevalent view among Protestants that James, in a not so subtle way, 
was re-introducing Catholicism into the country must have seemed fright- 
eningly real since it was fortified with further evidence from the printing 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani 1 9 

presses. The King' s permission was given for the printing of Roman Catholic 
books designed obviously for propaganda use and also to serve as a defence 
against the numerous anti-papal tracts printed at this time.^^ Doubtless, the 
translation of the Enchiridion during the height of the conflict was meant to 
support and strengthen James's cause. The translator of the work is not 
known but it was printed in 1686 for William Rogers and entitled A Manual 
for a Christian Soldier}^ From the imprimatur at the beginning of the work 
— signed C. Alston, 3 August 1686 — it is clear that the work was given 
Roman Catholic sanction. An interesting item in this edition is Rogers' 
advertisement at the end of the translation. Two entries here indicate the 
nature of the conflict raging at the time. They read: The Doctrines and 
Practices of the Church of Rome truly Represented; in Answer to a Book 
Intituled, A Papist Misrepresented and Represented', and An Answer to a 
Discourse Intituled, Papists protesting against Protestant Popery; being a 
Vindication of Papists not Misrepresented by Protestants. 

This translation of the Enchiridion presents very few serious difficul- 
ties. Because the work was meant to support the King's Catholic faith and 
his adherence to the Church of Rome, the translator's task was a simple one: 
he need only remain faithful to the original Latin text. The only major 
excisions are the original's side-notes. Stylistically, this seventeenth-century 
translation is in a much more comprehensible and less convoluted idiom than 
the translation of 1533. Its sentence structure is compact and devoid of the 
numerous circumlocutions and doublings often found in the first translation. 
For example in 1533 we read the following in the prefatory letter: 

Notwithstandynge yet haue I very gladly, and wyllyngly accomplysshed 
thy desyre, partly bicause thou art so great a frende of myne / partly also 
bycause thou requyrest so charitable thynges. 

The 1686 edition renders the same passage as follows: 

However I cannot but readily comply with one that is so dear to me, and 
also makes so pious a request. 

Many things may have attracted James and his supporters to this work 
but we can be sure that political survival must have come close to the top of 
the list. His public life was in jeopardy and he needed the support of the 
entire populace if he were to remain on the English throne. Hence it was 
necessary to assuage Protestant anxieties about his religion. Over the years 
many false encrustations of belief about he Catholic Church had turned that 
institution into a monstrous and fearful enormity in the eyes of those who 

10 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

opposed it.*^ One need only be aware of a work like Samuel Harsnett's A 
Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures to understand how the written 
word was capable of creating apprehension and panic through a mixture of 
truth and fantasy. ^^ The Enchiridion^ written largely before the onset of 
religious mud-slinging, presented the ideals of Christianity within a Catholic 
context in their purest light. If James were to show his people that he was 
aware of these ideals as well as their perversion, he need only return to 
Erasmus's work. Moreover, the King's declared views on liberty of con- 
science and tolerance found support in Erasmus's attitudes towards Christian 
unity and peace and his hatred of war among Christians for religion's sake. 
Erasmus's delineation of the duties of the Christian prince would have given 
support to James's own rule. The King must have hoped that the publication 
of a work outlining his duties and obligations to the people would make the 
public think, by a process of association, that the responsibilities discussed 
by Erasmus were ones that he as a responsible ruler would support and put 
in practice. Further rumour and ignorance might be dispelled through an 
awareness of the true Catholic's attitude towards ceremonies. The Enchiridion 
places the latter in a pejorative light when they are divorced from inner piety 
and practised for their own sake. Finally, the Enchiridion's rehance on the 
authority of the Bible and the Fathers of the Church would have reminded the 
Protestant reader of his own belief in the scriptures as the sole source of 
authority. Ideally, this latter point might have helped convince the sceptical of 
the close bond linking an enUghtened Roman CathoUcism with Protestantism. 
In conclusion, James and those who supported him must have thought 
that the publication of the Enchiridion at this time would contribute to his 
image and strengthen his position as Catholic king over a Protestant country. 
The enlightened and purified Catholicism that the work outlined was meant 
to destroy, or at least question, the exaggerated conclusions about the Roman 
Church that had become so much a part of the Protestant view of Catholi- 
cism. Ideally, James would be seen as the discriminating Catholic ruler, 
aware of his Church's pitfalls, but also aware of its pristine purity, its 
emphasis on tolerance, its adherence to basic Christian principles and its 
compatibility — or, at least, its potential to peacefully co-exist — with other 
Christian creeds. 

John Spier's Translation 

In 1752 John Spier's English translation of the Enchiridion appeared under 
the title The Christian's Manual, Being a Translation from the Enchiridion 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani /Il 

Militis Christiani of Erasmus P Nothing is known of Spier's life and activ- 
ities, but from the contents of his preface to the translation it is clear that he 
was a supporter of the established English Church. By far the most revealing 
part of this translation is the preface which establishes Spier's reasons for 
translating the work and corroborates my theory that the English Enchirid- 
ion, from the sixteenth-century onwards, was work for the moment designed 
to advance particular causes and beliefs, many of which, in and of them- 
selves, were incompatible with each other. Spier's translation is called on to 
support the cause of Protestant unity in England just as, less than one hundred 
years earlier, the same work was used to defend James IF s Catholicism. 

Spier's preface opens with a brief outline of the history and popularity 
of the Enchiridion. This is followed by an analysis of the merits of the work. 
Spier states: 

The usefulness of this work appears more fully, in that it is calculated to 
promote solid piety, and universal benevolence. For its design is not to 
undermine one Christian Church, and to build up another on its ruins, more 
to our own fancies: not to correct seeming errors in our Liberty, but real 
faults in our lives; not to be bitter against this or that sect of men, but to 
be kindly affectioned to all. . . 

Two important elements which set the stage for much that is to follow are 
apparent in this excerpt. First, Spier recognizes that the Enchiridion's 
importance lies primarily in its ethical approach to Christianity and its 
emphasis on the inculcation of piety and charity. Secondly, Spier points out 
that the work was never intended to be destructive, or through its criticisms, 
support the abolition of "one Christian Church" for another. Erasmus, we 
can be sure, would have agree whole-heartedly with this analysis, but, 
ironically, where Erasmus called for unity through judicious reform in the 
Roman Catholic Church, Spier uses the Enchiridion to make his appeal for 
unity among the numerous Christian sects of the Protestant establishment 
under George II. 

Spier then discusses at some length the fifth rule of the Enchiridion on 
the development of the inner life and the ascent from things visible to things 
invisible. He states: 

Our Author, in his fifth Rule, dwells very long upon the vices and 
superstitions of the Monks his contemporaries, and launches out far in an 
extempore invective against them. . . And it is no wonder that a man of so 
deep a penetration as Erasmus was, should see and expose the absurdity 
of their false pretences in religion. . . And though it cannot I think be denied 

Ill Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

that he himself (such was his preference of peace and charity to all other 
considerations) remained in the Conmiunion, though not in the corrup- 
tions of the Church of Rome; yet it is highly probable that his works, 
whether serious or otherwise, set the grand props and bulwarks of Popery, 
the Monks and other religious Orders, in so bad a light, as necessarily 
paved the way to a Reformation. 

From this excerpt it is clear that Spier regards Erasmus's works as at least 
provocations to the Reformation, even though he sees Erasmus as not 
deliberately intending this to happen and remaining within the fold of the 
Catholic Church himself. Further, Spier obviously regards the fifth rule on 
the development of the inner spiritual life as the core of the work and uses 
Erasmus's attacks on the abuses of monasticism to warn his own brethren 
of such practices. For Spier, the members of the Reformed Church should 
be grateful that they have returned to the original purity of Christianity. 
Happily, Erasmus's attacks on monasticism in the Enchiridion have shown 
them the pitfalls to avoid: 

The uses that may be made of this part of the Enchiridion, to wit, his invective 
against the Monks of those days, by the members of the reformed Church, 
are many and various. And the most obvious is this, that we may learn from 
thence to entertain a just sense of our happiness in being incorporated into 
that Church, which has long since renounced these superstitious rites, that he 
condemns and set us free from the tyranny of Popery. 

After this long preface, in which the usefulness of the work for the 
Reformed Church is made clear, Spier launches into his principal reason for 
translating the Enchiridion. He states: 

And in fact, do we not see the temper of one Sect of Christigins to be visibly 
soured, and as much set against their brethren of the Reformation, as 
against that very Church from which they both reformed. 

Spier's concern here is with the sectarianism that had made itself apparent 
in the English Protestant Church. From the information we possess, Spier 
had just cause in fearing the growing importance of sectarian groups in 
England. According to Vann, London had 29 different religious sects in 1641 
and in 1646 there were 199 sects in England.*^ Spier outlines the nature of 
these fractures by stating that although the Enchiridion helped to purge 
superstition and abuse from one church, "yet... even among Protestants 
themselves there are still some footsteps of superstition apparent, which 
cannot it seems be entirely rooted out of man's nature." Spier's concern is 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani / 13 

with the threat to Protestant unity in England and the extirpation of those 
forces which were standing in the way of that unity. He uses the Enchiridion 
to show that past superstitions brought to light by Erasmus are still in 
existence in the Reformed Church and are contributing to a general weakness 
in the structure of the institution. Finally he makes his complaint more 
specific by singling out two of the strongest non-conformist groups in 
England at the time. The first of these is the Methodists. He states: 

The founder of this Sect, not long since paved the way to his new 
institution by seeming extraordinary acts of devotion: such as rising to 
sing Psalms in night, whilst other slept; kneeling in Church at a time 
perhaps when others stood; fasting, whilst they eat; and praying, whilst 
they were joined in company. Such practices as these, I say laid the first 
foundation of Methodism: which if followed without ostentation and 
hypocrisy. . . may become, it is true, excellent means of keeping our bodies 
in subjection. But if he that eateth not, condemneth him that eateth, and 
bodily exercises such as these, are made the very soul and substance of 
Religion; they then draw men aside like a false bias from the main scope 
of the Christian faith. . . 

The founder to whom Spier refers is, of course, John Wesley. The reaction 
against Methodism in England in the eighteenth century assumed consider- 
able strength and importance. Green's Bibliography of Anti-Methodist Lit- 
erature in the Eighteenth-Century lists 606 anti-Methodist tracts published 
during this period. ^^ The movement represented a real threat to the estab- 
lished church. In many eyes its doctrinal stance of "justification by faith, 
assurance, and perfection made Methodism in terms of the title of one of the 
satires, a plain and easy road to the land of bliss."^^ Methodism also 
denigrated good works and offended the Church of England by attacking its 
priests. As Spier suggests, many regarded it as a form of religious hypocrisy 
and looked upon its adherents as people who practised religion for their own 
selfish ends. Others were afraid of religious wars, and still other saw 
Methodism as a return to Roman Catholicism.^* The strong feelings against 
this religious sect even in the late nineteenth century can be seen by 
examining some of the running-titles of an anti-Methodist work entitled, 
Methodism, A Part of the Great Christian Apostacy?^ Defamatory titles such 
as the following appear throughout: "The Pharisee's View of Sin," "Money 
Religion," "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing," "He Blasphemes God," "One 
With the Apostacy," "Spiritual Pride," "His Pharisee's Cloak," "The 
Scriptures Crucified," "A Blasphemer of the Spirit," and "At Prayer With 

14 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

The Devil." Spier's rhetoric in his preface to the Enchiridion is not as 
extreme as that of the running- titles, but it is obvious from his inclusion of 
this sect in the preface that he regarded it with some fear and saw the 
Enchiridion as a convenient tool with which to confront Methodism and 
point to its dangers as a subversive sect undermining the established church. 
The second group that Spier singles out for special comment are the 

whose inconsistencies with themselves in one or two particulars is very 
remarkable. For since Christianity consists not in the outward habilements 
of the body, but in the inward frame of the mind; does it not seem strange, 
that a number of men professing so spiritual a Religion. . . should 
nevertheless distinguish themselves by a superstitious uniform in dress 
and a language peculiar to themselves. 

It is interesting to note that, as regards Quakerism, Spier's basis of attack is 
linked to Erasmus's criticisms on the unimportance of externals and in 
particular on Erasmus's attacks on monasticism's undue emphasis on garb. 
For Spier, the Quakers, with their "superstitious uniform in dress": are the 
latter day equivalent of monks. 

The history of the Quaker movement in England has been dealt with 
sufficiently in other works. ^^ It is perhaps enough to say that this sect wielded 
a good deal of power in eighteenth-century England and did much to 
contribute to the lack of unity within the Church of England. Apart from 
complex theological and doctrinal differences with the established church, 
the Quakers also demonstrated a strong anti-social and anti-cultural element 
in their creed. As well as sartorial peculiarities and the use of the words 
"thee" and "thou," the Quakers called the days of the week and months of 
the year by number, refused to take oaths, and pay tithes. Combined with 
this anti-establishment stance, the Quakers showed a sense of superiority 
about their own religious convictions which must have annoyed many within 
the established church. The Quaker, Isaac Pennington, articulated this view 
in terms of religious evolutionary development with Quakerism at the 
pinnacle. After the abolition of the pope, the devil 

tempted aside in Episcopacy; when that would hold no longer, then into 
Presbytery: when that would not serve, into Independency: when that will not 
keep quiet, but still there are searching further, into Anabaptism: if that will 
not do, into a way of Seeking and Waiting: if this will not satisfy, they shall 
have high notions, yea most pleasant notions concerning the Spirit, and 
concerning the Life, if they will but be satisfied without the life.^'* 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Chrisîiani / 15 

After singling out these two strong non-conformist groups Spier closes his 
preface with a statement that shows his hope that the Enchiridion will call 
all back together into one religious body: "From these, and the like misap- 
prehensions, from commonly received opinions and vulgar errors in religion, 
our Author calls us back, giving us right notions of things and inflaming our 
hearts with virtuous sentiments." Undoubtedly, Erasmus would have been 
surprised to discover that his Enchiridion was being called upon to assist the 
Reformed Church in purging itself of rampant sectarianism since, when he 
wrote the work, there was no Reformed Church to say nothing of the 
existence of either Methodism or Quakerism. However, Spier, among others, 
was able to take from the Enchiridion what it seemed to offer in support of 
his cause by creating a new context for Erasmus's common sense guide to 
Christian living. Even though historical contexts and situations change, 
common sense — or at least Erasmus's brand of it as it applies to Christian 
belief and as it is found in his Enchiridion — remains universal and 
immutable, or so many seemed to thing at least if once can judge from the 
various causes it was called on to support. 

The actual translation of the text of the Enchiridion is not generally 
noteworthy for variations from the original. As might be expected, many 
references to the Roman Church are excised, but this is as far as Spier goes 
in altering the work. However, he introduces two footnotes into the work 
which are of some importance to this discussion. One of these shows his 
inoffensive and non-militant character while the other demonstrates his firm 
Protestant convictions. In the fifth rule of the Enchiridion Spier deletes a 
long passage which is principally concerned with the proper way of reading 
the spirit of the Scriptures; the section deleted is filled with references to the 
Bible and classical authors. Spier's feeling for the common reader causes 
him to remove this difficult section with the following covering footnote: 
"The Translator has omitted a long passage here, that is in the Original, which 
he supposed would be rather prejudicial than useful to thç Persons for whom 
this Translation was intended; namely, the plain, well-meaning, and illiterate 

The second note is of more significance primarily because it shows 
Spier's attitude towards the Reformation that had occurred over 200 years 
earlier. In rule four, Erasmus questions the need for the practice of the 
invocation of saints. He points out that different saints are invoked in 
different nations to effect desired ends "so that Paule dothe the same thyng 
among the frensshe men, that Hieron dothe with our countrey men the 

16 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

almayns. . ." Spier, the man who can see only the good of the Reformation 
movement, feels compelled to qualify this statement about the Dutch (i.e., 
"almayns") by adding the following footnote: "The Author wrote before the 
Dutch reformed," thereby suggesting that German and Holland's papal ties 
were the only cause of their superstitious practices.^^ 

The overall impression given by this edition of the Enchiridion is that 
the translator saw in Erasmus's delineation of superstitions and abuses in the 
Roman Church a valuable lesson for the rampant sectarianism of his own 
day. Spier, and perhaps many others who shared his belief in the absolute 
primacy of the Church of England, would probably not have agreed with 
Voltaire when he stated that "If there were only one religion in England one 
would have to fear despotism; if there were two, they would cut each other's 
throats; but they have thirty, and live happy and in peace."^^ Like Erasmus 
before him. Spier's primary concern was with Christian unity, although in 
Spier's case this call for unity, with Erasmus as the unwilling Protestant 
herald, was updated to serve the need of the post-Reformation Church of 

Crowther's Edition 

In 1 8 1 6 Philip Wyatt Crowther' s edition of the Enchiridion appeared entitled 
The Christian Manual Compiled from the Enchiridion Militis Christiani of 
Erasmus?'^ No biographical material seems to be available on Crowther. The 
Dictionary of National Biography lists three Crowthers, two of whom are 
related to each other as uncle and nephew. The former, Jonathon Crowther 
(1760-1824), was a Methodist preacher, and his nephew, also Jonathon 
(1794-1856), was a Wesleyan minister. Philip Crowther may have been a 
relative of these two men; the vehemence of his attacks on Roman Catholi- 
cism in his edition of the Enchiridion labels him as violently anti-papal and 
the inspiration for this edition may have come from a family supportive of 
the Methodist ministry. Crowther's edition is dedicated to the daughter of 
George II, the Princess Royal Augusta Sophia, who is described as a woman 
outstanding for her "Exalted Piety and Philanthropy." Following this dedi- 
cation is a preface which is interesting for the information it gives about the 
motivation and source for this edition. Crowther states: 

Charmed with the pious zeal and benevolence displayed in the Enchirid- 
ion, and convinced of its salutary power, I offer a new edition. Solicitude 
for the diffusion of such exalted sentiments overcame my objections to 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani / 17 

the task. I have availed myself of a former translation of the Enchiridion, 
but not without attempting to do greater justice to the manly and persua- 
sive eloquence of Erasmus. Some passages of the original are omitted and 
others altered, to render the work more generally beneficial. 

Like many before him, Crowther recognizes certain elements in the Enchi- 
ridion which make the work compatible with much of Protestant belief and 
sentiment. But to say only this is to ignore the final sentence of this excerpt 
whose full meaning only becomes apparent after a reading of the text itself. 
Crowther' s strong anti-papal bias is shown both through his omission of 
most passages in the original which refer to the Roman Church and also in 
his insertion into the text of extremely long notes and "Comments on Several 
Fatal Errors in Religion and Morality." These latter comments on Roman 
Catholicism are, in Crowther' s eyes, what make his work "More generally 
beneficial." To read the text is to realize that Crowther' s seemingly innocu- 
ous statement "more generally beneficial" really means more Protestant and 

The "former translation" referred to by Crowther is Spier's edition of 
1752. If Crowther was, in fact, connected with the Methodist ministry it is 
ironic that he would use Spier's translation, since one of Spier's reasons for 
producing his edition of the Enchiridion was to point to the dangers of 
sectarianism, especially Methodism and Quakerism. Except for a few minor 
stylistic changes and omissions and words and phrases, the Crowther text is 
almost entirely based on Spier' s. A passage from chapter two of both editions 
clearly shows this. In the Spier text we read: 

One principal of a Christian in this spiritual warfare is, to be perfectly well 
acquainted with the number and strength of the enemy, and with what 
weapons he may be most advantageously attacked and subdued. He is like 
wise to keep them in readiness upon occasion, lest he be surprized in a 
naked and defenceless state. 

Crowther makes only three minor alterations to this passage: 

One principal of a Christian in this spiritual warfare is, to be perfectly well 
acquainted with the number and strength of the enemy, and with what 
weapons he may be most advantageously attacked and subdued. He is 
likely to keep them in readiness lest he be surprised in a defenceless state. 

A long section of biographical detail entitled "Some Account of Erasmus, 
His Reception in England, and Correspondence" follows Crowther' s pref- 
ace. This, in turn, is followed by the heavily annotated text of the Enchirid- 

18 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

ion. Crowther's notes to the text are of two types: the first is the normal 
factual and scholarly note which lists sources for particular passages in the 
text. By far the most important note is the second type which is prejudiced 
and subjective and is used by Crowther to colour the text with a strong 
Protestant bias. Apart from their vehement attacks on Roman Catholicism, 
the most outstanding characteristic of these notes is their length. Often a note 
runs for two pages or more and leaves only enough space for two or three 
lines of text at the top of the page. A good example of this can be seen in 
that section of the text where Erasmus discusses auricular confession. 
Erasmus's intentions were not to denigrate the practice of confession p^r 5^, 
but only to show that true repentance was a thing of the heart and not the 
mouth. Crowther takes this opportunity to attack auricular confession and 
much more besides by quoting from Samuel Clarke:^^ 

The Church of Rome by their doctrines concerning confession and abso- 
lution, concerning contrition and superstitious penances, indulgences, and 
the power of the keys, have greatly confounded the doctrine of the gospel, 
concerning the forgiveness of sins, with corruptions introduced merely by 
the vanity and ambition of man; for the text on which they ground their 
pretended power doth plainly mean not to appoint man to sit in God's seat 
of judgment, but to authorize them from God to preach and to assure unto 
man the terms and conditions on which alone their sins shall be forgiven 

Among the Protestants also the error is no less dangerous, if confessing 
their sins continually to God, as the Romanists do to the priests, they return 
again to the practice of them, as having been absolved in course. . . Clarke 
Expos, of the Catech. p. 135. 

The Church of Rome to the two sacraments of our Lord's institution, has, 
without any authority, added five: 1 . Confirmation, which is not at all another 
sacrament, but merely a circumstance or appendage of baptism. . . 2. Penance, 
which is nothing but an arbitrary discipline imposed wholly and solely by 
mere human authority. 3. Extreme unction, which is an absurd superstition 
built upon a gross misinterpretation of a single passage in St. James's 
Epistle. . . 4. Ordination, which is not a sacrament, but merely a designa- 
tion of certain particular persons to a particular office. 5. Matrimony. . . 
Clarke Expos, of the Catech. p. 283. 

In his notes, Crowther' s attacks on Roman Catholic doctrine and practices 
(and, one assumes, on conservative Protestantism which often took its lead 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Miîitis Christiani / 19 

from Roman Catholicism) are lengthy and seemingly relentless. Here is 
Crowther on the greed of Catholicism; his examples are perhaps as amusing 
to present day readers as they are indicative of his strong anti-papal stance. 
He states: 

To display the infamy and rapacity of the Church of Rome, I have 
extracted from A. Egane's Book a few specimens of the prices of Abso- 
lutions and Dispensations. 

Page 10. A layman having murdered a priest shall be pardoned for 

6 2 
He that kills a bishop, or any other 
prelate must pay 36 9 

Page 1 1 . For murdering a layman, the dispensation 
is 3 2 4 

Page 15. An absolution, or other dispensation for 
irregularity, is 5 13 

And if there be a general absolution for all sins, 
it is 8 19 

Page 16. Dispensation of an oath, or contract 

7 2 3 

Page 18. Dispensation for doing contrary to the 
New Testament, the ordinary tax hereof 
is 12 16 16 

Crowther concludes this example of the ludicrous linking of the economic 
and the spiritual with a statement of ironic disdain, "Here we see the 
comparative value of a priest and a layman!" 

The work abounds in heavily weighted commentary of this kind. One 
further example of Crowther' s strong anti-papal attitude is apparent in that 
section of the work where Erasmus questions the invocation of saints and 
points out much of the superstition attached to the practice. Not content to 
allow the text to explain itself, Crowther feels compelled to add: 

Deluded Papists, attend to the admonition of St. Paul. How clearly is your 
lamentable state foretold. How opposite to the pure precepts of the gospel 
is your religion! and the pride of popes and priests to the humility of Christ 
and St. Peter. 

Crowther' s edition of the Enchiridion, like the others we have seen in 
this survey, demonstrates the suitability of the work for Catholicism and 

20 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

various hues of Protestantism as well. It is, of course, highly doubtful 
whether Erasmus would have approved of the many uses made of his work 
by opposing forces in religious struggles since the Reformation. Further, it 
is ironic that a work originally designed as handbook for all Christian solders 
should be gradually transformed into a weapon used by some Christians 
against others. 

Laurentian University 


1. "The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani and Reformation Politics" Erasmus in En- 
glish, 5 (1972), 16-21; "Religious Polemics and Two Sixteenth-Century Editions of 
Erasmus's Enchiridion Militis Christiani, 1545 and 1561" Renaissance and Reformation, 
ix, 3 (1973), 94-107. 

2. For the exact dates of publication, in the sixteenth century of this first English translation 
see E.J. Devereux Renaissance English Translations of Erasmus: A Bibliography to 1700 
(Toronto, Buffalo, London 1983), pp. 104-116. 

3. O'Donnell compares the English translation and the Latin text (pp. xxxix-xlv) and 
concludes that "the English translator is remarkably faithful to the content and intention 
of the Latin Enchiridion" (p. xliii). Erasmus. Enchiridion Militis Christiani: An English 
Version, ed. Anne M. O'Donnell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981). 

4. Royal tracts in Two Parts. . . of His Sacred Majesty. Upon Extraordinary Occasions Both 
before, as since his Petering out of England. Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in 
England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America and of English Books Printed in 
Other Countries 1641-1700, 2nd. éd., compiled by Donald Wing, vol. 2 (New York: 
Modem Language Association of America, 1982), J384. 

5. Wing, vol. 2, J384. 

6. Wing, 2nd ed, vol . 1 ( 1 972) , A 1 3 1 . An Abstract of the Contents of Several Letters Relating 
to the Management of Affairs with Rome, By the D. of Y. and Others. 

7. Maurice Ashley. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 
1966). p. 56. 

8. E.N. Williams. The Ancien Régime in Europe: Government and Society in the Major States 
1648-1789 (Bodley Head, 1970; rpt. Harmonds worth: Pelican Books, 1988), p. 492. 

9. David Ogg. England in the Reign of James II and William III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1955), p. 168. 

10. Ashley, p. 65. 

Douglas H. Parker / The English Enchiridion Militis Christiani / 21 

11. Richard Boyer. English Declarations of Indulgence 1687 and 1688 (The Hague / Paris: 
Mouton, 1968), pp. 5-6. 

12. Keith Thomas. Religion and the Decline of Magic (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 
1971; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), p. 645. 

13. Ashley, p. 64; Ogg, p. 168. 

14. Wing, vol. 2, E3205A. 

15. Under "pope" Wing Hsts over 20 anti-papal tracts published between 1670-89. 

1 6. A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland and of English 
Books Printed Abroad, 2nd. éd., eds. W.A. Jackson, R.S. Ferguson, K. Pantzer, vol. 1 
(London: The Bibliographical Society, 1986). 

17. British Museum, 1482.aa.23. 

1 8. Richard T. Vann. The Social Development of English Quakerism 1655-1755 (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 7. 

19. As quoted in Albert Lyles. Methodism Mocked: The Satiric Reaction to Methodism in the 
Eighteenth Century (London: The Epworth Press, 1960), p. 15. 

20. Lyles, p. 26. 

21. Lyles, p. 18. 

22. T.W. Christie. Methodism, a Part of the Great Christian Apostasy (London, 1881). 

23. Vann op civ, Wilham C. Braithwaite. The Beginnings of Quakerism, 2nd éd., revised by 
Henry J. Cadbury (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961); Hugh Barbour. The 
Quakers in Puritan England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1964); 
Hugh Barbour, J. Wilham Frost. The Quakers (New York, London: Greenwood Press, 
1988); Barry Reay. The Quakers and the English Revolution (London: Temple Smith, 
1985); for a contemporary view of Quakerism see the writings of its founder The Journal 
of George Foxe 2 vols ed Norman Penny (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911). 

24. Isaac Pennington. A Brief History of the State of the Church Since the Days of the Apostles 
with the Living Seal to It. The quoted passage is reprinted in Vann, pp 26-27. 

25. See Alice Carter. The English Church in Amsterdam in the Seventeenth Century (Amster- 
dam, 1964), especially part I: "The Church as an Institution." 

26. As quoted in Williams, p. 507. 

27. British Museum, 4378.i. 11. 

28. Samuel Clarke (1675-1729), divine and metaphysician. See Dictionary of National 

Observations on Milton's 



Summary: Milton's diacritics in six languages, though mostly typical of his 
time, allow some inferences about his language attainments and scholarship. 
For Latin verse, he uses accents to disambiguate rhythm or meaning. For 
Greek scholarship, he is punctilious. Italian authors are culture to him, 
French ones merely data. His Hebrew accents suggest neither a theological 
fundamentalist nor a textual conservative. His English verse ones reflect 
both etymology and rhythm, but where these part company he gives priority 
to rhythm. 

Though the topic is a small one, these observations draw together infor- 
mation which is either new or widely dispersed. They ask how, and for 
what purposes, Milton employed accents as diacritical marks. They assess 
how far he used them accurately, consistently, conventionally or unusually. 
In so doing, they build up a sense of his practice (in microcosm) of his 
languages and scholarship. They also prompt a few inferences about his 
proof-reading and other matters. 

The findings are presented in the order in which he learnt his languages, 
namely Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Hebrew.^ Because the accidentals 
of printed work are mostly put there by printers, I keep as far as possible to 
the evidence of holographs. As there exists more of such evidence for his 
Latin than for his other languages (except English, which in the present 
context is a special case), most time is given to his Latin — whose accents, 
too, are the least generally understood. 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /23 

24 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Latin Accents: Humanist Practice and Its Decline 

The Latin accents of Renaissance humanism,^ though their names and 
diacritical marks were based on Greek ones, do not (like those) primarily 
assist pronunciation. Granted, the Roman apex over a vowel indicated 
geminatio ( = doubling, that is, lengthening) of that vowel. Thus Quintilian 
mentions it as distinguishing ablative singular long -a,^ and the usage was 
revived among humanists as circumflex (mensâ, as nowadays we use ma- 
cron). Nevertheless, apex does not indicate where stress falls. The Roman 
apex system had disappeared before the humanists, whose system — or 
rather, systems — works differently. 

Grave, for instance, has not the force of apex (nor that of grave in 
French or Italian), because it does not differentiate sound at all, but instead 
meaning. Typically, it appears on adverbs or other indéclinables which are 
homographs of declined forms (inflections); so verd = "but" or "in truth," 
particle or adverb, whereas plain vero is the inflected form, ablative or dative 
of verus or verum. By a curious extension of this differentiating practice a 
final grave was placed on indéclinables even where (since no homograph 
existed) there was no need to differentiate. Grave was used on the preposi- 
tions à and è, not to distinguish them from homographs but to keep them 
separate from words preceding and following. 

Circumflex appeared less often than grave. Besides being used to 
distinguish inflections having long vowels from their homographs having 
short ones (as mensâ / mensa, mentioned above), the other chief function of 
circumflex was to indicate contraction (as amasse for amavisse). 

Acute was used mostly to mark suffixes like -que, -ne, -ve, though it 
had implications — somewhat vague — for pronunciation. This practice 
served mainly to distinguish the enclitic forms from homograph inflections: 
thus imaginatione ( = "imagination?", nominative with suffix) from im- 
aginatione (ablative singular), or quoque ( = "and whither," with suffixed - 
que) from quoque ( = "also"). This acute could be placed in various positions 
— on the q of - que^ for example, or be a grave instead. 

Performing a different function, acute might appear on the first vowel 
of a pair if the pair was not a diphthong: Muséum, and commonly with Greek 
loan-words. It might be supported, for total clarity, by diairesis: Hyperion. 
(Diairesis had exactly its modem function). The value of this usage for 
poetry, to establish scansion in ambiguous instances, is clear and we shall 
return to it. 

John K. Hale / Observations on Milton's Accents / 25 

Most of these usages disappeared in the course of the eighteenth 
century as the number of people communicating in Latin dwindled, while 
those who did so communicate were scholars who despised this use of 
crutches. But contrariwise, in the two preceding centuries accents guided the 
common reader of Latin through its lengthy periodic sentences. Being only 
guides, the accents do not appear every time they might, nor with total 
consistency (any more than with road signs now): something was left to the 

Milton's Handwritten Latin Accents 

Milton's earliest handwritten Latin illustrates several of these humanist 
practices. In the prose theme "Mane citus lege" ("Get up early in the 
morning"), based on Lyly's Grammar and dating from his time at St. Paul's 
School,"* grave occurs most often, some thirteen times. It occurs on indéclin- 
ables having homographs and on the preposition è\ but also on adverbs 
lacking homographs (radicitùs). Humanist fluctuation too occurs, as when 
in the first three lines we read sane and quàm but Mane and minus. Circum- 
flex is placed on final - a, ablative singular. Acute does not occur, but there 
is no occasion for it. 

In the verses attached to the theme, however, the practice differs. 
Neither "Surge, age, surge" nor "Ignavus satrapam" has any accentuation. 
This is despite occasions when it would be expected of a humanist: he writes 
luxuriatque, not luxuriàtque (or alternatives like luxuriâtqué) , and 
castraque, not castraque. While one cannot confidently assign a reason for 
this more than humanist fluctuation, I would infer from the presence of 
corrections to scansion and style in the elegiacs that Milton's attention was 
directed elsewhere, to matters of greater substance than accents. By the same 
token, the fullness and orthodoxy of accentuation in the prose theme suggest 
two things: he felt more at ease with prose composition at the time; or the 
prose stands nearer to fair copy than the verses do; or most likely, both. 

The next Latin accents of any quantity would be those of entries in the 
Commonplace Book, but for three difficulties: (i) some entries may or may 
not be by Milton, (ii) entries span a number of years, and (iii) some entries 
are not personal summary but quotation or a mixture, so that accents may be 
those of edition annotated. Instead, therefore, I take three letters from his 
thirties: to the humanist scholar Holstenius (1639); to Bodley's Librarian 
Rouse (early 1647); and to his Florentine friend Dati (April 1647). 

26 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

The letter to Holstenius (30 March 1639), the Vatican Librarian, has 
been excellently discussed by Joseph Bottkol.^ His collation of the Vatican 
manuscript with Brabazon Aylmer's edition of Epistolarum Familiarum 
Liber Unas (1674) demonstrates Milton at his most careful with accents. 
That is, as part of "quite plainly putting forward his best Latin and Greek, 
consciously addressing a great scholar in the language of scholars" (p. 626), 
Milton deploys the humanist accents fully, with almost total accuracy, and 
consistently. Some examples will show how, and especially where his usage 
contrasts with the printed accidentals. 

Profectd potiùs (line 22) has no accent in 1674, and exemplifies the 
generally much fuller use of grave for the indeclinable form of a homograph 
pairing. The younger Milton's care stands out when one compares the 
handwritten circumflexes of ilia bihliothecâ nisi impetraîâ prius veniâ (line 
32) with the mixture in the printed ilia Bibliotheca nisi impetratâ veniâ. This 
care leads him into one odd place: by placing grave on penè (line 16) he 
anxiously distinguishes the adverb meaning "almost" from the unseemly 
ablative oï penis (which his very scruple made me notice). He could have 
simply written paene. Nonetheless, when he writes dignumque adeo visum 
quicum velis (line 26) several signs of his intelligence and mettle are 
disclosed together. First, he does not place acute on the enclitic of 
dignumque, because having no homograph the word is self-explanatory. 
Secondly, though, he places grave on aded (adverb) to distinguish it from 
adeo (verb). Thirdly, the circumflex on quîcum ensures that the unusual 
ablative (all genders) of the relative pronoun qui with suffix - cum is 
recognized by his reader. We, in turn, can recognize the care he lavished on 
the writing-out: he places circumflex above the dot above the - / -; a little 
awkwardly, too, but meaning must prevail over calligraphy.^ 

Elsewhere, perhaps, calligraphy receives its due, since a further reason 
why acute is absent from dignumque may be that otherwise the phrase would 
become overfull of accents (so let only the semantically more important be 
read). The pleasure of reading the letter in manuscript is, in fact, not only 
considerable but heightened by the rhythms and economy of the accentua- 
tion. I surmise that no more than errors would mere pedantic fullness of 
accents impress so eminent a humanist. 

The accents of Milton's letter to Rouse eight years later make a 
different impression. For one thing, by "letter," is meant both the brief 
covering letter in prose and the verse-letter or Ode "Ad Rousium," because 
the latter — even if it is not in Milton's own hand — was certainly meant as 

John K. Hale / Observations on Milton's Accents / 27 

a fair copy and overseen by him.'' The prose letter, in Milton's own hand, 
resembles the Holstenius letter in having suffixed - que both with and without 
acute. The fact that now no graves adorn the indéclinables which lack 
homographs, whereas the earlier letter included Cum (line 37) and/<?rè (line 
45), may indicate a diminishing use of grave. 

What stands out, in any case, is the careful diairesis of Rouse's name. 
Every time it occurs, whether in the prose or the ode, it is Rousius, Rousium, 
and so on. Milton wanted it to have two vowels in his Latin. Clearly, he 
wanted that sound to reverberate through his purpose-built (and very eccen- 
tric) Latin Pindaric-CatuUan metres. So this time, and for the first time so 
far, his diacritic marking has a phonetic intention. 

There may be others here, if (though only if) the accents of the ode 
manuscript were Milton's own or seen and approved by him. At the risk of 
circularity, I maintain so, for this manuscript was like the letter to Holstenius, 
designed to impress a scholarly notable. I notice, then, the careful acutes on 
names borrowed from Greek, to separate those vowels from the following 
ones (Phinéam, Pegaséo, both at line 36); diaireses on names (Ion, at 56 and 
60, Creiisa at 60); and the acutes on teréris (line 42) and legéris (line 70), 
to indicate future (not present) indicative form. All these usages, and espe- 
cially the last, have the interest for us that while like many of the humanist 
accents they explain the meaning and grammatical function they are used 
more decisively to guide the reader as to sound, the startling prosody. Rouse 
is meant to read this aloud, so as to hear (prominently among the rest of it) 
the sound of his own name in Milton's Latin. The poet wanted his little 7>m 
d'esprit to be appreciated, and accents made a part of the guidance he gave 
to that end.^ 

The third Latin letter, to Carlo Dati, dated 21 April, 1647, adds a few 
points.^ First, it confirms that Milton did not place grave above the preposi- 
tion à { = "from" or "by"), though the printer in 1674 did so, and though 
Milton did place grave above the other preposition, é ("out of). This may 
help disputes about authorship in some other connection: it is surely striking 
that for every other use of grave we find more in the manuscript than in the 
book. And, secondly, Milton places a careful circumflex for contraction 
above rescissent ( = rescivissent) and liherâsti ( = liberavistï). 

What, then, do the differences between manuscript and print indicate? 
That the printers cared less for accuracy, or used fewer accents? That Milton, 
when old and blind, cared less about accents than formerly, or could not 

28 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

impose his own scruples? That there is some truth in all four inferences we 
shall see from later instances, in other tongues.'® 

Greek Accents and Milton's Greek Poems 

Greek accents indicate pronunciation, more than is true of the Renaissance 
practice for Latin. For instance, they always indicate stress, which the Latin 
accents never did. The system was worked out, once and for all, by Aris- 
tophanes of Byzantium (c. 200 B. C), to teach correct pronunciation of 
Greek to foreigners and perhaps to aid his generation's editing of the archaic 
Greek of Homer. 

The accents comprise acute, circumflex, and grave. Acute divides into: 
oxytone ("sharp-toned," acute on a word's final syllable); paroxytone (acute 
on penultimate), and proparoxytone (acute on antepenultimate). Circumflex 
divides into perispomenon ("drawn around," marking a final syllable as long 
by nature), while properispomenon does the same for a long penultimate. 
Oxytone is reversed into barytone ("deep-toned"), where an accented word 
follows. Other diacritics comprise breathings and diairesis. "Rough" breath- 
ings distinguish initial aspirate from other initial vowels, which accordingly 
receive "smooth" breathings. Diairesis seems to have been a matter of taste 
historically. To reiterate, these accents have prevailed ever since Aristoph- 
anes of Byzantium, and to omit or mismanage them was in Milton's day, as 
now, a solecism. 

Did Milton, then, penetrate such solecisms? That prose theme from his 
schooldays contains some Greek. Its accents are full and almost entirely 
correct. (He places one or two diacritics on the wrong vowel of a diphthong, 
and omits diairesis to guide scansion on a line he quotes from Homer). He 
is full again in the accents of the Greek of the Commonplace Book, and in 
his manuscript letters: fullness matters for Greek, as these accents, unlike 
those Latin ones, include no element of the optional. And Milton is accurate 
in the main.'' In his marginalia to Greek texts (for his own eyes only, not 
those of a learned recipient who is to be impressed) Milton keeps the same 
general standards of fullness and accuracy. 

In that case, however, the presence of incorrect accents in his Greek 
verses as published requires explanation. Whereas Bumey, Landor and 
others rebuked Milton, '^ a different inference would be that he did not 
superintend or proof-read his Greek for Poems, 1645; and that he could not 
(being blind) ensure that they would be set right for Poems, 1673. Evidence 
for this view includes the fact that not even when making the engraver of his 

John K. Hale / Observations on Milton's Accents / 29 

portrait for 1645, William Marshall, engrave self- satirizing Greek verses 
below the offending portrait did Milton insist on the accidentals being 
correct, since at least two errors occur there. ^^ Further evidence comes from 
1673 where attempts were made to correct the errors of 1645 (though they 
produced new errors).*"^ Thus the Greek accents indicate a Milton who did 
not strain to produce blameless diacritics in 1645, but tried (and failed) in 
his blindness to set them right later, perhaps as part of his whole self-pre- 
sentation to posterity in a run of publications later on in his life. A degree of 
scholarly self-respect, at any rate, was involved in the correcting of Greek 

Diacritics in Milton's French, Italian, and Hebrew 

Milton's French accents can be sampled in the Commonplace Book. Al- 
though they are fewer than the same words would carry in modem French, 
they work as normally for printed French books in his time. Thus we find se 
réservèrent, without grave; and no acutes on elire, election, and héré- 
ditaire}^ It seems that French practice at this period was less regularized 
than Italian, and that Milton takes it as he finds it — not being all that 
interested, perhaps, in French or its accents. 

On the other hand, he admired and composed in Italian. He was 
punctilious with graves in Commonplace Book entries. As for his poems in 
Italian, their accents are in general fuller and better in 1645 than in 1673. 
John Purves even thought that Milton wanted to "provide some guide to 
pronunciation, for not only are the usual verbal accents inserted (è, dira, faro, 
pud — puo, however, in sonnet V,2 — , but natia, soléa, ridéa are similarly 
marked."^ ^ If this view were right, it would have two important conse- 
quences. First, for the present inquiry it would mean that Milton took a closer 
interest in the accents of his Italian than of his Greek poems. And secondly, 
it would suggest that he took a close interest in the printing of 1645 — closer 
than for 1673 — a finding opposite to ours above. 

Certainly this is one place where the small matter of accentuation which 
we are pursuing impinges on larger bibliographical questions. But the 
evidence is more conflicting than Purves allows. If Milton was giving 
guidance, it is odd that he did not carry it through into proof-reading (one 
puà is 2ipuo despite the implied care) and had lost interest altogether by 1 673. 
The acute on the short, poetic form of the Italian imperfect {ridéa, and so 
on) was a usage of English printings of Italian, not of contemporary Italian 
usage, and can be seen in seventeenth-century London printings of Dante or 

30 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Ariosto. Indeed, in 1645 itself, it is found in one of the commendatory pieces, 
hence not by Milton himself — on natio}'^ 

More general considerations may contribute now. Granted that an 
interest in Italian accents may concern the sound of the verse of a still 
currently spoken language, and that guidance might be needed for the 
pronouncing of this stiff and démodé pastiche, ^^ Greek accents too were 
designed for pronunciation and Milton would know this; and correctness was 
no less de rigueur for their audience. The dull truth seems to be that even 
though Milton was as passionate in his love of Italian as of Greek, he was 
merely luckier with his Italian in 1645 than he was with Greek. "Luck," here, 
means the luck of the printing house; and luck moved a little the other way 
in 1673. 

I have found no examples of Milton's handwritten Hebrew, but we do 
have some evidence of how he interpreted Hebrew's (numerous and complex) 
diacritical marks. He certainly knew the importance of the vocalizations or 
pointings, those indicators of vowels which sit under, over, inside, or after the 
consonant which begins the phoneme, in a language which for centuries wrote 
down only its consonants. In his translation of Psalm 88.15 Milton writes a 

note on the pointing: " +and shake / With terror sent from thee" is glossed " 

+Heb. Prae concuss ione.'' The gloss means "shaking," = "as you, God, shake 
me." As one editor writes, "Milton has enlisted an homonymous root ... to 
help him understand a difficult line."^^ For "»li 3p (minno'ar) he is proposing 
">îi^îp (nfno'ar), a putative pual from the root n'r, to shake. But no extraordi- 
nary scholarship is involved. Every reader of the Hebrew Bible has to decide 
things like this because they inhere in a consonantal text, in fact have in some 
ways been made harder not easier whenever the Masoretes added their 
conjectural vocalizing to a difficult or ambiguous reading. Milton is a normal, 
scrupulous reader of the pointing, because pointing is vital to understanding 
yet often crucially uncertain. 

Milton's Accents in English 

Modem English employs accents solely for loan-words, but in the Trinity 
Manuscript we see Milton using accents on English words in ways trans- 
ferred from their normal use on Latin ones: acute, circumflex, diairesis (but 
not grave). Chaeronéa, Ligéas, and Alphéus have the acute which those 
Greek loan-words would have in Milton's Latin. In Thon the circumflex 
signifies long vowel, as is made clear when elsewhere he writes the word as 

John K. Hale / Observations on Milton's Accents / 31 

Thone. A careful diairesis makes sure that vowels when sounded do not join 
up into diphthong, so spoiling the rhythm and metre: Druids (Lycidas, 53).^® 

But why accentuate words written for his own eyes (and ears) alone? 
Was the habit of accenting so engrained? Or was the Trinity Manuscript 
meant as a copy to send for a printing of his English poems, hence carrying 
marks for printers to use to guide readers? The latter idea cannot be fully 
right, not so much because the actual printings of Lycidas and the other 
poems do not carry these accents as because other evidence from the 
manuscript proves the habit was indeed engrained. He marks with equal care 
some of the names in his (prose) listing of possible subjects for an epic: Saul 
Autoda'ictes, Elisaeus Hydrochoos, Elisaeus Adorodocétos (p. 34). The 
accentuation preserves that of their Greek originals, for accuracy's sake — 
though perhaps also (since these were names for a projected poem) for 
rhythm's sake. 

Though one cannot by the nature of the entries be sure if these list-name 
accents define pronunciation as well as provenance, a more intriguing 
instance occurs back in the writing of Masque 61 A\ 

By scaly Triton's winding shell, 

And old soothsaying Glaucus' spell, 

By Leucothea's lovely hands, 

And her son that rules the strands ... (p. 24) 

If the Greek etymologizing habit was so engrained, how comes it that 
Leucothea has no acute on -the -1 Either Milton has omitted his own usual 
practice or we have an indication of how he heard this line — as trochaic in 
seven syllables, rather than iambic in eight. The line does effect the transition 
from iambics preceding it to a trocheee following. I surmise that Milton's 
pen paused over - the - to accent it, then moved on as he heard or felt a coming 
metrical change. In short, whereas normally his English accents reflected 
etymology and sound alike, in a few cases they parted company and he gave 
the priority to sound. 

It would be instructive to look out for more such. Simpler instances 
would include diaireses in names without any clear inherited vocalization 
— GorloiSy perhaps. Analogies from other poets come to mind here. Without 
anachronistically invoking the "strange moon-marks" of Hopkins' poems in 
manuscript, let me adduce Milton's contemporary Edward Benlowes.^^ 
Benlowes, unlike Milton, took enormous pains to get all the Latin accents 
right for his bilingual poem Theophila. He not only applied but extended the 
humanist use of circumflex to indicate a Latin contraction: in presentation 

32 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

copies he himself puts in circumflex over - th - of father and - r - of Spirit 
to show that these words are monosyllabic. Even though Benlowes* method 
and the degree of insistence are eccentric, their purpose recalls some of the 
Milton instances in that getting it to sound right becomes the absolute 
priority. My own exploration has shown some parallels, for example, the 
sounding of Rouse as RoUsius, and there may be more. 


A variation in Milton's attitude to each language, and in his use of it, is 
indicated by his diacritic practice. He selects and adapts from the humanist 
Latin system, whereas he obeys the Greek one as binding. This may corre- 
spond with his usage of the two languages: Latin was familiar, like an old 
glove, but Greek was treasure; one was for praxis, the other for theoria. 
Possibly a similar inference about Italian and French can be hazarded: on 
the strength of his care with Italian accents, together with the much greater 
number of Italian than French entries in the Commonplace Book, can we 
infer that Italian represented culture — indeed Renaissance — whereas 
French represented no more than data? 

Certainly Milton knew and practised some of his languages more, and 
better, than others. His emendation to the Hebrew of Psalm 88 is no 
wondrous emendation, just an unattractive and uneconomical guess — far 
inferior to the best emendation to the Greek text of Euripides. On the other 
hand, it is interesting that Milton felt no inhibition whatever about interpre- 
ting the sacred text and even emending its received form. He was neither a 
theological fundamentalist nor a textual conservative. 

In the main Milton takes the accent system of each language as he found 
it. He seems to make less use of the humanist Latin one in private than when 
needing to impress the recipient of a letter — a practice not insincere but a 
matter of self-respect (and hence verging on calligraphy). This self-respect 
can be glimpsed in the spasmodic attempts to have his accents printed 
correctly or as he wished, though he is not obsessive about it. 

In the last resort, the English accents may prove the most revealing. 
First, they show his Greek and Latin interacting with each other to influence 
his English practice with names. This interactiveness is a microcosm of his 
imagination at work, since words, phrases and whole allusions come to him 
in his best poems by a not essentially different intersecting of his foreign 
languages within his hospitable English. And secondly, at just a few points 
he uses accents phonetically, not as normally in conjunction with scholarly 

John K. Hale / Observations on Milton's Accents / 33 

accuracy but for sound alone. If more such can be found, my prolonged 
attention to such a minimalist topic as accents will have had value. 

University ofOtago 


1 . The order is established by Milton's statement in "Ad Patrem," 78-85. For the text of the 
passage see The Poems of John Milton, ed. John Carey and Alastair Fowler (Lx)ndon: 
Longmans, 1968), pp. 151-152. This edition of the poems, cited as "Carey," is used 
throughout unless otherwise cited. 

2. This is not the only system of Latin accents, but is the main one studied here. For the 
others, being various ancient and medieval systems and an irrelevant Graecizing system 
of the Renaissance itself, see Piet Steenbakkers, "Accent-Marks in Neo-Latin," in Rhoda 
Schnur, gen. ed. Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Hajhiensis: Proceedings of the Eight Inter- 
national Congress of Neo-Latin Studies (Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts 
and Studies, 1994), 925-934. I am in debt to correspondence with Dr. Steenbakkers 
throughout this section. 

3. Quintihan, Institutio Oratorio, 1.7. 2-3, on geminatio, and see Steenbakkers, section 3.2. 

4. I have used the Camden Society edition, A Common-Place Book of John Milton and A 
Latin Essay and Latin Verses Presumed to Be by Milton, ed. Alfred J. Horwood (1877), 
together with a photocopy of the original held by the Harry T. Ransome Library, 
Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin. 

5. Joseph McG. Bottkol, "The Holograph of Milton's Letter to Holstenius," PMLA, 68 
(1953), 617-627. 

6. Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P. G. W. Glare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 1548; 
Bottkol, 621 (transcription), 622 (collation), and Plate 1 opposite 622. 

7. For the letter I have used a photocopy kindly supplied by the Bodleian Library. For the 
ode I have used a facsimile and transcript in Harris F. Fletcher, ed. Milton 's Complete 
Poetical Works in Photographic Facsimile (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1943), 
4 vols., vol. 4. Fletcher (4.456) is non-committal on whether the ode ms. is in Milton's 
own hand, though most scholars have thought so. It suffices here that the ms. has the same 
distinctive accenting of "Rousius" as Milton's prose letter, and that he must have 
scrutinized the ms. even if he did not write it. 

8. Similar purposes emerge if one looks at the same accentuation usages in the printed texts 
of the poems (1645 and 1673): Eléo and Elegia ("Elegia Sexta," 26 and 49); Eoo and 
Philyrëius ("Elegia Tertia," 34, and "Elegia Quarta," 27); Parère fatis ("In Obitum 
Procancellarii Medici," 1). Whose was the purpose, Milton's or his printer's? The more 
unusual and phonetic the purpose, the more Hkely to be Milton's. I am sure at least of the 
last example. Parère, where not only would the sense go wrong if we did not identify the 

34 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

verb form as from pareo ( = I obey) at once, but also the unusual iambic metre (unusual 
because coming amongst so many other metres) would be missed — and the poem would 
sound wrong. The concern for sound in a Latin poem seems best ascribed to the poet 

9. See The Familiar Letters of John Milton, tr. David Masson and ed. Donald Lemen Clark, 
in The Works of John Milton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-1938), 18 
vols, 12.44-50. 

10. Bottkol (ibid.) notes a grave before enclitic (which ought to be acute there) at line 45 of 
the Holstenius letter. Similarly a very occasional error or misplacing of accent can be 
found among the marginalia to Euripides and Lycophron. 

12. A summary account is given, with full reff , by Douglas Bush in A Variorum Commentary 
on the Poems of John Milton (General Editor, Merritt Y. Hughes), vol. 1: The Latin and 
Greek Poems, ed. Douglas Bush (London: Routledge, 1970), pp. 255-256. 

13. Phaies, not Phaieis (omission of iota subscript); autophues, without any accent. 

14. Carey, p. 229, summarizes the situation respecting Milton* s longest Greek poem, the 
version in Homeric hexameters of Psalm 1 14. 

15. The examples are from p. 186, but other entries and the practice of French printed books 
of the seventeenth century concur. I have used the rare autotype facsimile of the Common- 
place Book: A Common-Place Book of J. Milton. Reproduced by the Autotype Process 
from the Original Manuscript in the Possession of Sir Frederick J. U. Graham . . . with 
an Introduction by A. J. Horwood (London: Privately printed, 1876). 

1 6. John Purves, in The Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire, 2 vols. (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1955), II, xv. 

17. In the ode by Antonio Francini, line 38, Fletcher, 4.218. 

18. It is démodé pastiche because it uses words and idioms and senses from 200 years of 
Italian sonneteers, finishing with those of the sixteenth century: it is an Italian too eclectic, 
synchronic, and passé to convince Italian ears. I have discussed these matters in "The 
Audiences of Milton's Italian Verses," Renaissance Studies. 8, 1 (1994), 76-88. 

1 9. John Milton, Complete English Poems, Of Education, Aeropagitica, ed. Gordon Campbell 
(London: J. M. Dent, 1990), p. 129. 

.20. The Trinity ms. is cited from John Milton, Poems Reproduced in Facsimile from the 
Manuscript in Trinity College, Cambridge. With a Transcript (Menston: The Scholar 
Press, 1970). The accented words mentioned occur thus: Chaeronéa, p. 9 (Sonnet 'To the 
Lady Margaret Ley," hne 7), Ligéas, p. 24 (Masque, line 880), Alphéus, p. 31 (Lycidas, 
line 132), Thon, p. 22 (Masque, line 675), nut Thone, p. 20 (Masque, line 674); Druids, 
p. 29 (Lycidas, line 53). 

21. All details are from Harold Jenkins, Edward Benlowes: Biography of a Minor Poet 
(London: University of London/The Athlone Press, 1952), app. UI. 

Le dialogue de l'auteur et 

du lecteur dans La 

Sepmaine de Du Bartas 


pour Laura et John McClelland 

Résumé: Dans cet article, il s* agit avant tout d'attirer l'attention sur les 
mécanismes dialogiques qui animent tout le projet de Du Bartas dans La 
Sepmaine. Le narrateur de ce récit de la Création est mu par un profond 
désir de convaincre, défaire connaître, d'amener le lecteur à une expérience 
contemplative. Mais les coruiitions du dialogue sont brouillées, ambiguës, 
sans quoi le désir de connaître par la médiation d'un autre ne subsisterait 
pas. Le dialogue entre l'auteur et le lecteur conduit à l'accomplissement de 
leur mutuelle humanité dans le souvenir de l'origine. 

Lorsque Du Bartas publie son poème en 1578, il s'inscrit dans une longue 
tradition. En premier lieu, celle des commentaires de la Genèse, parti- 
culièrement nombreux entre 1550 et 1650. Ensuite, celle de la littérature des 
Hexaemera, c'est-à-dire des exégèses portant sur les six jours de la Création: 
les oeuvres les plus connues sont celles de saint Ambroise, de saint Grégoire 
de Naziance, de saint Grégoire de Nysse et de saint Basile pour lequel 
Érasme écrit en 1532 une préface élogieuse. Enfin, celle du poème cosmo- 
logique dont Lucrèce peut être tenu pour le père et qui connaît une grande 
postérité au seizième siècle: citons pour mémoire les Hymni naturales de 
Manille, 1' Urania de Pontano, le Microcosme de Scève et le Premier des 
Météores de Baïf.^ 

La Sepmaine a rencontré, dès sa parution, un énorme succès, et parmi 
tous les lecteurs, il y en a un qui semble particulièrement pertinent: François 
Feu- Ardent (1541-1610), un célèbre cordelier qui fut du parti de la Ligue et 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /35 

36 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

écrivit de très nombreux traités contre les calvinistes ainsi que des commen- 
taires à quelques livres saints. Il a pris le temps de lire avec attention le poème 
de Du Bartas, d*en louer les beautés et, de manière générale, l'orthodoxie. 
Mais bien évidemment d'en remarquer aussi ce qui lui apparaît comme des 
graves errements: ainsi en est-il, par exemple, de l'emploi de l'adjectif 
"triple-une" dans lequel Feu- Ardent voit une scandaleuse division de l'indi- 
visible Essence divine, et un retour des conceptions trinitaires en honneur 
chez les calvinistes.^ 

Une attention si soutenue à un texte qui ne se présente pas, au premier 
chef, comme un traité de théologie, laisse penser qu'il y a dans La Sepmaine 
une sorte de provocation au dialogue de l'auteur et du lecteur. Un dialogue 
dans lequel la séduction, la tromperie, la surprise jouent tour à tour leur 
partie. L'oeuvre implique des questions que le lecteur doit mettre en lumière 
pour comprendre les réponses qui lui sont proposées. On ne reviendra pas, 
après la remarquable étude de Jan Miemowski,^ sur les différents strata- 
gèmes employés par Du Bartas pour charmer (delectaré) le lecteur et lui 
enseigner (doceré) une histoire qu'il connaît déjà. Comme on le sait. Du 
Bartas entend dire non le vraisemblable, mais le vrai. Il fonde avant tout son 
oeuvre sur le refus du mensonge poétique des païens. C'est là introduire le 
lecteur dans le vieux débat (dont Origène est la figure principale) sur le 
fameux "style inculte" de la Bible. Saint Jérôme avait déjà proclamé dans 
une de ses Lettres (53,8) que David, l'auteur des Psaumes, était "notre 
Simonide, notre Pindare, notre Alcée, ou même notre Catulle"; ce que Calvin 
reprendra. Car la Bible possède une éloquence propre, "alteram quamdam 
eloquentiam suam," dit saint Augustin dans son De Doctrina Christiana (IV, 
7, 10). Du Bartas se trouve devant une sorte de dilemme: rendre compte du 
texte sacré et de son message sans en copier les procédés. Une nouvelle 
rhétorique doit être mise en place. On pourrait brièvement la défmir en 
reprenant ce que Quintilien, dans son Institution oratoire (Vni, 3, 83), dit 
de l'emphase: "donner à entendre au-delà de ce que les seuls mots expri- 
ment." C'est là en effet la nécessité à laquelle se trouve confronté Du Bartas 
lorsqu'il fait le récit des premiers moments de la création: exprimer l'inex- 
primable, montrer l'excès du signifié sur le signifiant et tenter de choisir 
plutôt l'expression que la signification. Un tel travail requiert la mise en 
place d'un dialogue de l'auteur et du lecteur. 

Dès le début de l'oeuvre, le lecteur est guidé avec rigueur dans les 
dédales des subtilités théologiques, grâce en particulier aux nombreuses 
interventions d'un auteur qui prend diverses figures: poète, peintre, pro- 

François Roudaut / Le dialogue dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas / 37 

phète, témoin de la création du monde. Une de ces interventions est très 
importante. En introduction à son récit de la création du monde, Du Bartas 
dit ceci: 

Ainsi donc, esclairé par la foy, je desire 

Les textes plus sacrez de ces Pancartes lire: 

Et depuis son enfance, en ces aages divers. 

Pour mieux contempler Dieu, contempler l'univers 

(I, V. 175-178). 

On a souligné le fait que la lecture du monde passe par la foi. Mais il faut 
remarquer combien l'expression du désir (séparé du reste du vers par la 
virgule et placé à la rime) occupe une place essentielle. Il ne s'agit pas pour 
Du Bartas, en effet, d'une nécessité, ni même d'un devoir, mais seulement 
d'un élan totalement subjectif d'un individu, élan dû à une agitation inquiète 
de l'âme qui ne parviendra à la possession de l'objet que par la médiation 
d'un agent extérieur. Rien ne contraint le narrateur à faire ce récit sinon un 
désir de lucidité, de clarté dans la contemplation ("pour mieux contempler 
Dieu") à laquelle, avant l'oeuvre, il s'adonne déjà. C'est donc à un travail 
de rationalisation de la contemplation qu'il convie le lecteur dans un mouve- 
ment d'ouverture qui offre par là même un code de lecture du texte. Il y aura 
rationalisation, mais pour aboutir à une vision comme mystique de la 

Yvonne Bellenger a publié, il y a quelques années, un article intitulé 
"Du Bartas et son lecteur," dans lequel elle analyse les emplois de "je" et de 
"tu," et montre l'importance accordée par Du Bartas au personnage du 
lecteur."^ Elle cite ce bref passage du septième jour: 

Sied- toy donq, ô lecteur, sied toy donc près de moy, 
Discours en mes discours, voy tout ce que je voy. 

(v. 441-442) 

C'est en attachant la plus grande importance à ces vers que je voudrais relire 
ici non pas l'ensemble de La Sepmaine^ mais un passage du premier jour qui 
me paraît illustrer cet appel de Du Bartas à la mise en place d'un "discours" 
sur des "discours." Après avoir mis en valeur l'importance du travail de 
réflexion d'ordre rationnel qui est demandé, il sera possible de montrer 
comment Du Bartas contraint le lecteur à prendre un chemin qui, par bien 
des aspects, s'apparente à celui de la mystique. On a souvent parlé du 
caractère ludique et combinatoire de La Sepmaine. Il n'exclut pas un grand 

38 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

sérieux. Et François Feu- Ardent ne s'y était pas trompé, qui lisait La 
Sepmaine avec une extrême attention. 

Dieu a créé le monde à partir du néant {ex nihilo) que Du Bartas appelle 
le "rien" (v. 193 en particulier). De "l'infini d'un rien" (v. 99) procède la 
matière; ce sera la matière première, pure indétermination, état informe et, 
comme tel, impossible à définir autrement que par des oxymores.^ 

Les vers 223 à 236 du premier jour exposent l'état du "rien" avant la 
création de la matière et décrivent le monde dans son état premier: 

Ce premier monde estoit une forme sans forme, 

Une pile confuse, un meslange difforme, 
225 D'abismes un abisme, un corps mal compassé. 

Un Chaos de chaos, un tas mal entassé: 

Où tous les elemens se logeoyent pesle-mesle: 

Où le liquide avoit avec le sec querelle. 

Le rond avec l'aigu, le froid avec le chaud, 
230 Le dur avec le mol, le bas avec le haut, 

L'amer avec le doux: bref durant ceste guerre 

La terre estoit au ciel et le ciel en la terre. 

La terre, l'air, le feu se tenoyent dans la mer: 

La mer, le feu, la terre estoyent logez dans l'air, 
235 L'air, la mer, et le feu dans la terre; et la terre 

Chez l'air, le feu, la mer. [...]. 

Ce passage est naturellement fondé sur le verset suivant de la Genèse (I, 2): 
"Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi, et 
Spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas." L'ensemble du texte de Du Bartas est 
le développement de ces quelques mots. Conune le rappelle Albert-Marie 
Schmidt dans La poésie scientifique en France au XV7^ siècle, le tableau du 
chaos est, à l'époque, un véritable exercice de style: Clément Marot, Guil- 
laume des Autels, Jacques Peletier s'y essaient tour à tour. Mais Du Bartas 
ne paraît pas vouloir se situer dans la lignée de ses prédécesseurs. Ses choix 
sont plus complexes. Le lecteur remarque bien vite derrière certaines 
formules ("une forme sans forme," "D'abismes un abisme") la présence de 
saint Augustin dont V Advertis sèment mentionne l'influence considérable.^ 
C'est en effet dans Les Confessions (XII, III, 3) que le saint, donnant son 
interprétation de ce verset de la Genèse, emploie l'expression "Profunditas 
abyssi" et conclut son paragraphe par la phrase suivante: "non tamen omnino 
nihil: erat quaedam informitas sine ulla specie": "ce n'était pas cependant le 

François Roudaut / Le dialogue dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas / 39 

néant absolu; c'était une sorte d"infonnité' sans aucune apparence."^ Cette 
attention portée au "désordre" originel par saint Augustin est 
particulièrement intéressante pour Du Bartas. Car la citation du verset qui 
ouvre le paragraphe est la suivante: "terra erat invisibilis et incomposita." 
Saint Augustin s'est sans doute servi non pas de la Vulgate mais de Tltala,^ 
une version qu'il préfère parce qu'il la trouve plus proche de celle des 
Septante. En insistant sur le désordre, Du Bartas s'éloigne donc de la Vulgate 
et ancre son texte dans une tradition avant tout patristique (et comme telle 
parfaitement suivie par Calvin). Du passage de saint Augustin, Du Bartas 
retient principalement les expressions susceptibles de frapper le lecteur et 
laisse de côté l'interrogation sur le lieu de la lumière et les adresses à Dieu. 
Le dialogue que Du Bartas engage avec son lecteur est donc déjà, à ce 
moment d'appréhension du texte, un dialogue ambigu. L'auteur oriente son 
texte vers saint Augustin, et marque sa différence en ne prenant pas l'élément 
essentiel qu'est l'adresse à la divinité. Car il s'agit bien des Confessions et 
non de La Cité de Dieu: le livre XII se présente comme une méditation sur 
les premiers versets de la Genèse. Mais une méditation qui ne cesse de 
réclamer le dialogue, qui ne peut se construire que par le dialogue. Dialogue 
avec un Dieu présent, mais qui ne répond pas, pas plus que ne répond le 
lecteur présent qui lit le texte de La Sepmaine. 

Relisons ce que dit saint Augustin au début de ce livre: 

Mon coeur se donne bien du mal, Seigneur, dans le dénuement de ma vie 
présente, quand les paroles de ta sainte Écriture frappent à sa porte. Et si 
l'indigence de l'intelligence humaine est très souvent riche en discours, 
c'est que la richesse parle plus que la découverte, la demande est plus 
longue que l'obtention, et la main qui frappe plus laborieuse que celle qui 

L'oxymore ("l'indigence de l'intelligence humaine est très souvent riche en 
discours") exprime le fondement même de la démarche de saint Augustin: 
la recherche du sens de l'écriture, devant quelqu'un, ici devant Dieu. C'est 
peut-être là ce que veut dire Du Bartas à son lecteur lorsqu'il fait ce "détour" 
par saint Augustin. Le texte de Du Bartas ne cesse en effet de poser des 
questions au lecteur et contraint ce dernier à donner des réponses dont la 
validité se vérifiera au fil du texte. On dira qu'il s'agit là du fonctionnement 
de tout texte. Certes, mais il semble que le poème de Du Bartas provoque un 
véritable dialogue avec le lecteur. Les questions que pose saint Augustin (sur 
le lieu de la lumière, par exemple) sont celles que doit se poser le lecteur de 
La Sepmaine^ lui qui reçoit de Du Bartas un enseignement. Enseigner, c'est 

40 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

en effet ce que dit saint Augustin lorsqu'il s'adresse à Dieu: "docuisti me" 
est répété à deux reprises. Enseigner, c'est-à-dire participer à un dialogue, à 
une relation d'échange d'où la vérité doit sortir. Il ne s'agit pas pour Du 
Bartas d'asséner un discours d'autorité. 

Il y a une autre conclusion que l'on peut tirer de cette relation au texte 
augustinien. Saint Augustin emploie le terme species que l'on traduit par 
"forme," tout en sachant qu'il signifie aussi "apparence," "figure," "beauté" 
(il est voisin du terme platonicien sCôoç). Ce que Du Bartas veut faire 
comprendre à son lecteur, c'est que les vers que celui-ci vient de lire ne 
portent pas principalement sur la formation du monde, sur sa mise en ordre, 
mais sur sa mise "en beauté." Le lecteur devra juger de la conformité de la 
beauté du texte à celle du monde. 

Le désir de dialogue (le désir car il "désire" écrire) se poursuit par la 
présence d'une autre tradition connexe. Au vers 225, les expressions "D'a- 
bismes un abisme" et "Un Chaos de chaos" doivent surprendre le lecteur par 
leur étrangeté et lui rappeler la voix des prophètes. Il ne s'agit certes pas à 
proprement parler de "génitifs hébraïques" (qu'il convient d'appeler plus 
justement "expressions géniti vales"). Cependant, de telles formules retien- 
nent quelque chose de la puissance contenue dans les expressions hébraïques 
mettant en valeur la qualification du nom: on connaît le fameux "vase 
d'élection" {y as electionis) utilisé à propos de saint Paul dans les Actes des 
Apôtres (IX, 15). L'expression ainsi obtenue possède une force beaucoup 
plus grande que ne le laisse supposer la formulation française: "vase d'élec- 
tion" signifie en effet un vase dont l'essence même réside dans son choix 
par Dieu. C'est là renvoyer à un absolu. Du Bartas reprend en partie cette 
tournure et la complexifie en parlant d'un abîme dont l'essence même ne 
serait qu'abîme, d'un chaos qui serait à l'infini un chaos, une sorte de pureté 
de chaos. Un tel choix marque la volonté de dépasser le modèle augustinien 
dans l'indicible, dans l'expression d'un au-delà de toute catégorie logique. 

Il serait sans doute facile au poète de poursuivre ainsi dans la même 
veine et de faire se succéder ce type de locutions. Le texte finirait par acquérir 
une certaine rigueur dans l'illogisme, si l'on peut dire. Du Bartas entend ne 
pas laisser s'installer le lecteur dans cet ordre et intercale des remarques 
d'une plus grande banalité: "un tas mal entassé," par exemple, qui laisse 
penser à une possibilité de conception du chaos. Mais cette dernière expres- 
sion vient en fait d'une troisième origine: le vers 8 du premier livre des 
Métamorphoses d'Ovide. Après le christianisme et le judaïsme, voici le 
paganisme. Les Métamorphoses (I, 15-20) reparaissent en arrière-plan des 

François Roudaut / Le dialogue dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas / 41 

vers 228 et suivants. Du Bartas, cependant, les suit de loin car son dévelop- 
pement est bien plus complexe. En effet, il mêle la théorie des quatre 
humeurs (sec, humide, froid, chaud) et les deux catégories sensibles ("dur," 
"mol") énoncées par Ovide (v. 20) à des déterminations d'ordre géométrique 
("rond," "aigu") et spatial ("haut," "bas"). En outre, il met en place dans les 
vers 233 à 236 un système de combinaisons qui n'est pas équilibré: si la mer, 
l'air et la terre contiennent les trois autres éléments, en revanche, le feu n'en 
contient aucun; cette quatrième séquence attendue est remplacée par un 
nouveau système dans lequel se trouve comme récapitulée la position de la 
terre par rapport aux trois autres éléments. Le dialogue se poursuit dans une 
orientation différente que l'on pourrait qualifier de méta-poétique, dans la 
mesure où ce déséquilibre oblige le lecteur à s'interroger sur le texte qu'il 
vient de lire, c'est-à-dire à tenter de donner un sens, non pas à ce qui est 
décrit, mais à la description elle-même. 

Ainsi, cet ecphrasis est symptomatique d'une relation avec le lecteur 
qui n'est nullement stable et dont le fondement n'est pas l'amour de la 
contemplation. Il n'y a pas ici d'admiration semblable à celle qu'exprime 
Adam dans La Seconde Semaine!^ On se trouve en effet dans le cas de 
l'impossibilité d'une participation mimétique, impossibilité qu'accentuent 
les permanents effets de retard, ces dilationes sermonis, comme les appelle 
Vives (dans son De ratione dicendi, 1532) ou Érasme (dans son De duplici 
copia verborum ac rerum, 1521). Cela a pour conséquence de déséquilibrer 
le lecteur, c'est-à-dire de le forcer à réagir, à participer à un dialogue. Il n'est 
certes pas apostrophé violemment comme aux vers 31 et suivants: 

Prophane, qui t'enquiers, quel important afaire 
Peut l'esprit et les mains de ce Dieu solitaire 
Occuper si longtemps? [...]. 

Dans ce passage, les interrogations se poursuivent pendant quelques vers 
encore jusqu'à ce que Du Bartas dévoile cet interlocuteur, ce "prophane" 
que tout lecteur pouvait prendre comme une image de lui-même: il 
l'interpelle en l'appelant "blasphémateur" (v. 37). Cet averroïste qui posait 
des questions impies ne saurait être le lecteur, présupposé bon chrétien. Le 
dialogue paraissait refusé dans ces vers, mais pour apparaître à un autre 
niveau. Car ce n'est pas dans ces apostrophes que réside le lecteur avec lequel 
Du Bartas entend avancer. À moins que l'on ne souligne l'étonnante variété 
des lecteurs invoqués par Du Bartas, et que l'on ne conclue, par conséquent, 
en raison de la multiplicité de tous ces visages, à l'imposibilité d'un dialogue. 

42 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

On pourrait dire que, dans le passage analysé précédemment, Du Bartas 
refuse V accumulation cette convenance du discours avec un public supposé. 
Il y a plutôt mise en place d'une elocutio monstruosa, pour employer 
l'expression utilisée par Calvin quand il veut qualifier, dans son commen- 
taire au De dementia de Sénèque, le style illaboratus du philosophe. Une 
abondance, en effet, qui se marque dans la profusion des métaphores, des 
comparaisons avec pour but non pas de ramener l'univers à des proportions 
humaines par l'usage d'expressions fameuses comme les "celestes chan- 
delles" (I, V. 116) pour signifier les étoiles ou la "torche sainte" (I, v. 483) 
pour désigner le soleil, mais au contraire d'indiquer la radicale insuffisance 
du comparant par rapport au comparé, c'est-à-dire de refuser une quelconque 
représentation de la réalité au profit d'un discours "didascalique," d'un 
discours par conséquent de "distinction" des divers éléments du monde et 
de mise en lumière des relations qu'ils tissent. Un tel projet ne peut se 
concevoir que par la mise en place d'un dialogue avec le lecteur, c'est-à-dire 
avec quelqu'un qui accomplisse le texte, qui aille plus loin que lui dans les 
directions qu'il se contente d'indiquer. L'esthétique de l'entassement, de la 
compilation {farrago) que l'on a pu déceler chez Du Bartas ne doit donc pas 
amener à conclure à une nature purement combinatoire du texte. Ce qui 
compte avant tout — c'est sans doute un truisme que de le dire — c'est 
l'ordre dans lequel le texte se déroule lors de la lecture, non pas pour marquer 
seulement son habileté, sa compétence dans tel ou tel domaine, mais surtout 
pour conduire le lecteur de déception (au sens latin de tromperie) en décep- 
tion, et l'obliger ainsi à le concevoir, lui le texte, comme la voix d'un auteur, 
c'est-à-dire comme un instrument de ce que l'on appelle un colloque spiri- 
tuel, une conversation sacrée. 

La multiplicité des sources évoquées dans le passage analysé précé- 
demment implique une question de la part de l'auteur: que dire face à une 
telle profusion, à une telle complexité de fils qui s'entrecroisent et qui ^ 
contraignent l'auteur à se réfugier finalement dans le champ du possible? Le 
but du dialogue est d'éviter toute univocité du texte au profit d'une nouvelle 
attitude exégétique. De ce point de vue, les divers rappels et annonces que 
l'on peut déceler dans le premier jour sont la marque d'une méthode, d'un 
savoir qui se cherche. Une telle orientation suppose que soit demandé au 
lecteur un effort moral. Il doit prendre conscience de la nécessité d'un devoir 
exégétique, présenté par l'image de la digestion: 


L'homme que Dieu munit d'une brave asseurance 
Semble au bon estomac, qui soudain ne s' offence 

François Roudaut / Le dialogue dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas / 43 

Pour l'excès plus léger, ains change pomptement 
Toute sorte de mets en parfaict aliment 

(VII, V. 355-358) 

Il est ici question de la manducation, cette activité qui consiste à mâcher, à 
ruminer tout au long de la journée quelque parole divine de manière à 
maintenir un dialogue constant avec Dieu. Le texte propose une pratique 
proche de celle de la lectio divina: tendre son esprit, dans la prière, à la seule 
compréhension de l'Écriture.'^ Il s'agit de suivre la division tripartite de la 
vie spirituelle (cogitatio, meditatio, contemplatio) telle qu'elle a été diffusée 
par les écrits de Gerson en particulier. '^ Le dernier vers cité souligne 
combien il est nécessaire de changer le texte, de le transformer en une 
nourriture non pas d'un goût délicieux mais d'un pouvoir grandement 
nutritif: un "parfaict aliment." Ainsi le dialogue avec le lecteur est-il la 
reprise du dialogue que le poète a tenté avec la divinité afin de faire sortir la 
moelle de l'os: 

Il [Dieu] veut que là dedans le ministre fidèle 
De l'os des saincts écrits arrache la mouelle. 

(VII, v. 403-404) 

La médiation que représente la lecture sert de point de convergence à des 
images qui, combinées, doivent proposer une essence unique. Si le dialogue 
paraît "brouillé," c'est parce que l'accès au sens ne saurait être immédiat, et 
que nous devons, comme le dit saint Paul (I Cor., Xin,12) voir confusément 
comme en énigme et dans un miroir pour voir ensuite face à face. La 
Sepmaine n'est pas une oeuvre d'art au sens où l'entend Platon lorsqu'il 
expose dans le Livre X de Z/z République (597 ssq.) le paradigme des trois 
lits. Le discours à l'oeuvre dans le poème n'est pas le rêve d'un autre, le 
produit d'une quelconque délégation de parole. La lecture est finalement à 
l'image de la création: une construction progressive. Et dans le monde que 
présente Du Bartas chacun des éléments acquiert peu à peu ses qualités 
propres. Au départ, 

L'Air estoit sans clarté, la flamme sans ardeur, 
Sans fermeté la terre, et l'onde sans froideur. 

(I, V. 249-250) 

On assiste ensuite à un déploiement du monde. De même que "l'univers 
déploie les siècles que Dieu avait comme repliés en lui lors de cette première 
création" — c'est là une pensée augustinienne*^ — , de même le lecteur doit 
accomplir ce travail de déploiement, d'explication du sens, ou des sens qui, 

44 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

en se mêlant les uns aux autres, construisent le monde des paroles à l'image 
du monde des choses. Le chaos n'est pas un état d' indistinction dans lequel 
le discours n'aurait pas de lieu ni même dans lequel il viendrait se dissoudre; 
c'est un procès vers un ordre, un dynamisme interne à la matière, comme le 
dit saint Augustin dans les Confessions (XII, VI, 6). C'est-à-dire que le 
travail du lecteur consiste à effectuer un retour à l'origine de la construction 
du texte, à ses fondements mêmes: restitutio in pristinum statum. Ou 
déploiement du présent: il s'agit dans la lecture du texte, dans la découverte 
des différentes sources, de "creuser" le présent, de le "déployer" puisque le 
passé et le futur s'y trouvent contenus.'^ Au septième jour, Du Bartas déclare: 

L'Esprit est sans esprit, s'il ne sçait discourir (v. 329). 

Cette réflexion peut s'appliquer moins à l'auteur de La Sepmaine qu'à son 
lecteur. Du Bartas lui renvoie en effet l'une des questions fondamentales 
qu'il pose dans son vaste commentaire du récit mosaïque: comment 
s'autoriser à mêler sa voix à celle d'une parole tenue pour fondatrice, 
comment remplir les ellipses du récit biblique? Ce sont des questions que le 
lecteur doit transformer ainsi: comment comprendre — enserrer — le texte 
bartasien? Ce passage sur le monde avant le chaos constitué par la matière 
n'est pas proprement lisible; et pourtant le lecteur devra (par désir peut-être) 
le lire, c'est-à-dire en donner un discours. 

Il faut que le regard de l'esprit crée des formes. Celles que les gravures 
effectuées par Thomas de Leu pour la grande édition de 1611 nous donnent 
ne sont pas "réalistes": ce Dieu qui plane ainsi sur le monde indique par là 
même qu'il est signe d'autre chose. Et le travail que doit faire le lecteur est 
celui de l'abstraction, de la transformation de son regard en contemplation. 
Mais de quoi? De son humanité, à travers des schemes qui ne peuvent être 
hérités que de textes. On retrouve ici la définition même de la mimesis, 
représentation d'une représentation. Le dialogue de l'auteur et du lecteur a 
pour but l'accomplissement de leur mutuelle humanité, La mimesis, comme 
on le sait, abstrait, schématise, réduit le souvenir à ses schemes essentiels. 
Le dialogue a comme enjeu le souvenir d'un lieu d'origine. Le travail de la 
lecture est un exercice métaphysique. Le dévoilement progressif du sens par 
le lecteur doit être mis en relation avec le dévoilement de l'ultime vérité qui 
se fait jour dans le déroulement même de l'histoire. Le lecteur joue ainsi un 
rôle essentiel par rapport à l'auteur: sans lui, il ne saurait y avoir de texte 
puisque celui-ci n'a de sens qu'orienté, en fonction de la lecture qui en sera 
faite et qui sera la préfiguration du dévoilement universel du sens, l'apoca- 

François Roudaut / Le dialogue dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas / 45 

lypse. Le dialogue a pour fonction de permettre à "rhorrible discord" dont 
parle Pontus de Tyard dans le Solitaire premier d'être "transmué en douce 
symphonie." ^^ 

Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 


1. Dans l'optique qui nous occupe ici, il ne saurait être question de faire référence aux 
oeuvres ultérieures qui peuvent se réclamer de La Sepmaine: celles de Miles de Norry 
(1583), Guillaume Le Chevalier (1584), Joseph du Chesne (1587), puis au dix-septième 
siècle Christophle de Gamon (1609), Jean d'Escorbiac (1613), Alexandre de Rivière 
(1619) et, on ne saurait l'oublier, Charles Perrault, l'auteur en 1692 de La Création du 

2. Dans sa Semaine premiere des Dialogues, auxquels sont examinez et confutez cent 
soixante et quatorze erreurs des Calvinistes, partie contre la tres-saincte Trinité et unité 
de Dieu, partie contre chacune des trois personnes en particulier (Paris, Sebastien et 
Robert NiveUe, 1589), f. 281*». 

3. Dialectique et connaissance dans La Sepmaine de Du Bartas (Genève, Droz, 1992). 

4. Dans Du Bartas poète encyclopédique du XVI' siècle, sous la direction de James Dauphiné 
(Lyon, La Manufacture, 1988); revu et corrigé dans Yvonne Bellenger, Du Bartas et ses 
divines Semaines (Paris, SEDES, 1993), 219-235. 

5. Comme le dit saint Augustin, Les Confessions, Xn, VI, trad. É. Tréhorel et G. Bouissou 
(Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 1962), p. 353: "Si l'on pouvait la dire 'un néant qui est 
quelque chose' [hihil aliquid] et 'un être qui est un non-être [est non est], voilà ce que je 
dirais d'elle." 

6. (Lausanne, Éditions Rencontre, 1970), p. 51. 

7. Traduction d'É. Tréhorel et G. Bouissou, vol. 14, p. 349. 

8. 'H ôè Y^l flv àôpaToç Kal àKaxaCTKeûaCTTOÇ. 

9. "Eden," v. 296: "Il commence à admirer"; 309, 313,317: "Il admire tantost." L'admiration 
sera également exprimée (avec une naïveté sans doute feinte) au troisième jour de La 
Sepmaine, v. 715-718, lors du récit de la création des plantes. 

10. Origène, Lettre à Grégoire, 4: "car il est absolument nécessaire de prier pour comprendre 
les choses divines" (cité par J. Rousse, s.v. "Lectio divina," Dictionnaire de spiritualité 
ascétique et mystique, col. 473). Saint Augustin prie pour obtenir Y intellectus fidei: voir 
en particulier Les Confessions, XI-XIII. 

11. Tractatus de mystica theologia, éd. A. Combes (Rome, Thesaurus Mundi, 1957), quarta 
pars, cons. XXI-XXV, p. 51 ssq. 

46 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

12. La Genèse au sens littéral, V, XX, 41, traduction de P. Agaësse et A. Solignac (Paris, 
Desclée de Brouwer, 1972), p. 433. 

13. Nicolas de Cues, La Docte Ignorance, II, 3; Ed. Argent. I, 33. Du Bartas l'a sans doute 
lu dans l'édition de Lefèvre d'Étaples (1514). 

14. Édition Silvio Baridon (Genève/Lille, Droz/Giard, 1950), p. 19. 

''The Obedience due to 

Princes": Absolutism in 




Summary: This paper attempts to tease out the contemporary political 
resonances found in John Donne 's Pseudo-Martyr. While it is true that 
Pseudo-Martyr aligns itself with absolutism, it does so in a very complex 
and ambivalent manner, rejecting political patriarchalism and adopting a 
moderate sense of the obedience due to the monarch. 

Was John Donne an absolutist? The difficulty of answering this question 
comes not only from Donne's often remarked ideological slipperi- 
ness.^ It is also the result of complex contemporary definitions of absolutism, 
a term whose subtleties were long hidden by vague uses of the term "divine 
right of kings." As Margaret Judson pointed out many years ago, early 
seventeenth-century Englishmen had no trouble believing at once that God 
sanctioned kingly power and that kings were legally accountable to their 
people.^ It was equally possible for common-law advocates such as Sir 
Edward Coke to insist that regal power is divinely authorized. Absolutism 
existed on a spectrum, from radical formulations that demanded complete 
obedience even to evil monarchs, to moderate beliefs in the balance between 
monarch's prerogative and subject's liberties; any account of Donne's 
absolutism must situate him along this graduated line. 

To further complicate the picture, early Stuart absolutism (like all 
political philosophies) did not float benignly above the political fray. Rather, 
absolutism and its counter-arguments were formulated in various political, 
legal, and cultural crucibles. For Donne studies, the Gunpowder Plot and 
ensuing Oath of Allegiance controversy are particularly important events in 
this theoretical history. Not only was Stuart absolutism widely articulated 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /47 

48 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

— and legitimated — during the Oath of Allegiance debate, but this event 
first coaxed John Donne into print, with the 1610 publication of Pseudo- 
Martyr. The book has been interpreted as a relatively derivative statement 
of allegiance to absolutism, one of great symbolic importance to the Donne 
myth because in it the author publicly rejects a Catholic political position to 
support the Protestant King.^ But not only does Pseudo-Martyr align itself 
with moderate absolutism; the book also stresses the continuities between 
Catholic/Protestant political positions as much as it insists on their differ- 
ences."* It is in this way only a partially obedient text, and one which suggests 
reservations toward the secular authority it supposedly defends.^ 

The Oath of Allegiance and the Origins of Political Authority 

The Oath of Allegiance was the legal expression of overwhelming anti-Cath- 
olic sentiment that followed the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. 
Instituted in response to the apparently real threat to the King's life, the Oath 
asked its takers to denounce the Pope's alleged power "to depose the King. 
. . or to discharge any [English] subjects of their allegiance to his Majesty. . 
. or to offer any violence or hurt to his Majesty's royal person, state or 
govemment, or to any of his Majesty's subjects within his Majesty's domin- 
ions."^ In the passage "most misliked by many Catholickes in England" the 
Oath also made takers swear 

that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure as impious and heretical 
this damnable doctrine and position that princes which be excommuni- 
cated and deprived by the Pope may be deposed or murdered by their 
subjects or any other whatsoever.^ 

Cardinal Bellarmine, the most famous of Catholic polemicists, may well 
have been thinking of this passage when he claimed that the Oath is "so 
craftily composed, that no man can. . . make profession of his Civill 
subiection, but he must bee constrained perfidiously to denie the Primacie 
of the Apostolicke Sea."^ Denouncing the Pope as "heretical," in other 
words, could not be tolerated by the Catholic church. 

Catholics insisted that the Oath struck at the heart of the Roman 
Church; King James and his polemical adherents claimed it simply distin- 
guished between spiritual and temporal jurisdictions, allowing freedom of 
conscience as long as Catholics swore civil loyalty to the King.^ The central 
theoretic2d issue was whether the Pope had the "deposing power" in temporal 
affairs, and even if he did — as Bellarmine and others claimed, though their 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 49 

opponents never conceded — how it could legitimately be implemented, 
through tyrranicide, invasion, or coordinated rebellion. It was in arguing this 
point that Catholic polemicists produced a number of theoretical by-products 
which influenced contemporary conceptions of political authority. To make 
their opposite points. Catholics and Anglicans involved in the Oath of 
Allegiance debates, including Donne, argued for very different understand- 
ings of the nature and origins of political society. 

In order to claim the Pope's deposing power. Catholic controversialists 
had adopted the belief that the final authority for temporal power resided in 
"the people." Working from the Thomistic theory of natural law coupled 
with an Aristotelian belief in the initial liberty of man,^® Catholic political 
writers argued that people in some mythical past had decided the form of 
their temporal government by consulting natural law — that is, by "reading" 
the Godly blue-print for good behavior installed inside each human being. 
They then gave up their individual sovereignty, pooling it in a central 
government which might be democratic, oligarchic, or monarchical. Which- 
ever of these kinds of government was chosen, political authority in the state 
not only originated, but continued to depend upon, the continued sanction 
of the subject.^ ^ In Bellarmine's words (quoted here by one of his polemical 
opponents, who found the sentiments they expressed appalling): 

Secular or civil power. . . is instituted by men. It is in the people unless 
they bestow it on a prince. It depends upon the consent of the multitude 
to ordain over themselves a king, or consul, or other magistrate; and if 
there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the kingdom into an 
aristocracy or democracy. ^^ 

That the multitude had continued access to the "secular or civil power" 
which they originally delegated was most notoriously argued in Robert 
Parson's A Conference on the Next Succession to the Crown of England, 
published in 1594 under the pseudonym Robert Dolman. ^^ Parsons/Dolman 
argue that "[t]he approval of the people is of its very nature given condition- 
ally; that is, it is a contract entered into by ruler and subjects"; as a result, 
monarchical power is "not absolute but delegated. . ." (1:73). If the monarch 
rules "according to the law of the land and the advice of the councilors" then 
he is due all "Duty, Reverence, Love and Obedience"; if he does not, "so yet 
retaineth still the Commonwealth her Authority, not only to restrain the 
Prince if he be exorbitant, but also chasten and remove him, upon due and 
weighty considerations. . ." (1.29). The profound similarity between Dol- 
man/Parson's ideas, Protestant resistance theories and the English common 

50 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

law tradition is suggested by the fact that in 1648 the Conference was 
partially republished, its original authorship concealed, as Severall Speeches 
delivered at a Conference concerning the Power of Parliament, to proceed 
against their King for Misgovernment. ^^ 

Despite — or perhaps because of — this similarity, the Conference was 
considered deeply seditious. Because a belief in the law of nature, discernible 
by each individual, seemed to lead inevitably to the conclusion that political 
power was instituted from below, anti-absolutist natural law theories posed 
a tremendous theoretical challenge for absolutism. The most resounding 
response to this challenge was the definition of sovereignty in Jean Bodin's 
Les six Livres de la République, widely available in Latin and French after 
1576 and in English after 1606.^^ Bodin defines sovereignty as the central 
kernel of political power that exists in every organized government. Al- 
though the form of government is determined by the will of the people, 
operating as best they can according to their perception of natural law 
imperatives, the power or "sovereignty" has its source in God alone. Once 
the people have created the form of government, God "will infuse this Soule 
of power into it," as Donne, who as we will see is deeply influenced by Bodin, 
describes the process in Pseudo-Martyr}^ Since only the form and not the 
power originates in the people, it can never be taken back, as Dolman and 
Bellarmine would have it. 

The Dolman/Parsons brand of republicanism and the Bodinian re- 
sponse came to their radically different conclusions from a shared under- 
standing of the origins of political authority. Catholic political polemic 
suggested that, since through natural law temporal governmental power 
originated in each individual man's "Nature and Reason," then the good of 
the subject remained the central site of sovereignty in the state. By contrast, 
in separating the abstraction "sovereignty" from the material form of gov- 
ernment, a certain strand of Bodinian-derived absolutism argued that despite 
its formal origin in the people, political power could never be rescinded. 

But another brand of early modem absolutism rejected entirely the idea 
that government originated when previously free citizens banded together. 
Robert Filmer' s Patriarcha, part of which may have been composed during 
the Oath controversy years, is the most complete elaboration of this theory 
in England. '^ Filmer praises some late sixteenth and early seventeenth 
century absolutists for having "bravely vindicated the right of kings in most 
points" (p. 3). But he rejects their acquiescence to the idea of originally 
consensual government, complaining that all these thinkers, "when they 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 51 

come to the argument drawn from the natural liberty and equality of man- 
kind, do with one consent admit it for a truth unquestionable, not so much 
as once denying or opposing it" (p. 3). If the "first erroneous principle" of 
man's "natural liberty" were challenged, Filmer suggests, then "the whole 
fabric of this vast engine of popular sedition would drop down of itself (p. 


Political patriarchalism was an attempt to get around that "first errone- 
ous principle" simply by pressing hard on the common-sense observation 
that people are bom, not free, but into families. By Filmer' s logic, the initial 
subjection of children to parents meant that original liberty was not a 
principle of natural law. As a result, there was no theoretical need "for such 
imaginary pactions between kings and their people as many dream of (p. 
7). By insisting that "the subjection of children is the only fountain of all 
regal authority, by the ordination of God himself," patriarchalism attacks the 
"perilous conclusion," put forward both by Jesuits and "some over zealous 
favourers of the Geneva discipline" (p. 3) that the multitude has the right "to 
punish or deprive the prince if he transgress the laws of the kingdom" (p. 3). 

Patriarchalism was a particularly extreme form of absolutism for 
several reasons. Since in this theoretical system "there were kings long 
before there were any laws," political patriarchalism put monarchs squarely 
above positive law, "[f]or as kingly power is by the law of God, so it hath 
no inferior law to limit it. The father of a family governs by no other law 
than by his own will, not by the laws or wills of his sons or servants (p. 35). 
Patriarchalism also claimed a particularly extreme degree of obedience from 
subjects, partly as the result of the associative and emotional power of the 
father/king analogy. James I, who may or may not have had patriarchalist 
sympathies himself, certainly exploited the rhetoric in The Trew Law of Free 
Monarchies when he argued the absurdity of rebellion by describing the 
hypothetical case of rebellious children: 

consider. . . whether upon any pretext whatsoever, it wil not be thought 
monstrous and unnaturall to his sons, to rise up against [their father], to 
control him at their appetite, and when they thinke good to sley him, or to 
cut him off, and to adopt to themselves any other they please in his roome: 
Or can any pretence of wickednes or rigor on his part be a just excuse for 
his children to put hand into him?*'' 

The only resistance against monarchs/fathers allowable in the patriarchal 
system is flight. 

52 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

In response to the Oath of Allegiance controversy patriarchalism first 
began to be heard in the cultural rhetoric of early modem England. The 
Ecclesiastical Canons of 1606, authored in large part as a response to the 
Gunpowder plot, clearly derived kingly from fatherly power, arguing that 

power and authority. . . although we only term it fatherly power (potestas 
patria)', yet, being well considered how far it did reach, we may truly say 
that it was in a sort royal power (potestas regia)\ as now, in a right and 
true construction, royal power {potestas regia) may be called fatherly 
power {potestas patria) .^'^ 

And one of the official Crown respondents to Catholic Oath of Allegiance 
polemic, Lancelot Andrewes, similarly makes the characteristic logical 
move of patriarchalism — from the historical assertion that fathers were the 
first monarchs, to an ontological conclusion that royal power was the same 
thing as fatherly power — in this sermon, preached before the King on 
August 5, 1610, describing the Genesis patriarchs: 

Patriarchs were not always to govern God's people; but Kings, in ages 
following, were to succeed in their places. . . both in the right of their 
fatherhood and rule of their government, as fathers of their countries and 
governors of their commonwealths. . . So that two things we gain here: 1. 
ThdXjus regium cometh out of jus patrium, "the King's right" from "the 
father's," and both hold by one commandment. . ?^^ 

It is to these dueling theories of the origins of political authority that 
the beginning of Chapter 6 of Pseudo-Martyr refers: 

There hath not beene a busier disquisition, nor subject to more perplexitie, 
then to finde out the first originall roote, and Source, which they call 
Primogeniun subiectum, that may be so capable of Power and Jurisdic- 
tion, and so invested with it immediately from God, that it can transferre 
and propagate it, or let it passe and naturally derive it-selfe into those 
formes of Govemement, by which mankind is continued and preserved. . 
.(p. 130). 

Donne's own position on this question aligns him with Bodinian theories of 
natural-law absolutism. Using the characteristic "imprinting" imagery, 
Donne claims that by consulting inner, God-given instructions men will learn 
that they should "be subject to a power immediately infus'd" from God (p. 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 53 

In keeping with Bodin's argument, Donne clearly rejects the method- 
ology of political patriarchalism when he scoffs at attempts "to seeke out, 
how they which are presumed to have transferr'd this power into [the King], 
had their Authoritie, and how much they gave, and how much they retained" 
(p. 1 31). Such efforts to legitimate political authority by tracing it historically 
yield little, 

For in this Discoverie none of them ever went farther, than to Families', 
In which, they say, Parents and Masters had Jurisdiction over Children, 
and Servants, and these Families concurr'd to the making of Townes, and 
transferr'd their power into some Governor over them all (p. 131). 

Anticipating John Locke's more complete evisceration of patriarchalism in 
Two Treatises of Government, Donne points up its obvious logical shortcom- 
ings. What about savages, which "never rais'd Families" (p. 131)? What 
about men exiled from their kingdoms to form new ones outside established 
government (pp. 131-2)? If these existed, as they demonstrably did, it would 
collapse patriarchalism' s claim that secular power grows out of paternal 
dominion — and with that collapse would fall absolutism more generally. 
Further, given Donne's Bodinian definition of sovereignty, even if fathers 
did originally possess this power they could not pass it along to their sons, 
since it always remains with God. It is "a cloudie and muddie search," Donne 
tells us, "to offer to trace to the first roote of Jurisdiction, since it growes 
not in man" (p. 132). Associations between fatherly and kingly authority can 
only be understood as "examples and illustrations, not Rootes and 
Fountaines, from which Regall power doth essentially proceede" (p. 132). 
More subtly, Donne attacks a central patriarchalist contention by 
reshuffling its terms in this complicated metaphor: 

For God inanimates every State with one power, as every man with one 
soule: when therefore people concurre in the desire of such a King, they 
cannot contract, nor limitte his power: no more then parents can condition 
with God, or preclude or withdraw any facultie from that Soule, which 
God hath infused into the body, which they prepared, and presented to 
him (p. 133). 

Donne here supports the absolutist contention that the "people" cannot limit 
the power of the King with the assertion that this is "no more" allowable than 
parents are allowed to "withdraw any facultie" from the souls of their 
children. Parents cannot, in this comparison, destroy (or otherwise change) 
the form of their own children, once the soul has been "infused." Donne here 

54 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

disagrees with the central patriarch alist assertion that parents have powers 
of life and death over their children, associating that claim, complexly, with 
consent theory. Just as theorists of popular sovereignty claimed that the 
people could rescind political authority from monarchs, so, Donne suggests, 
patriarchalists believe parents can rescind the child "which they prepared" 
from God. In this way Donne discredits patriarchalism by associating it with 
ideas of popular sovereignty and denying its usefulness to main- stream 

^^[B]linde and stupid obedience" 

Pseudo-Martyr rejects political patriarchalism, adopting instead a relatively 
moderate sense of the obedience due an absolutist monarch. But other 
passages in this text suggest an ambivalent attitude toward even the limited 
sense of monarchical authority proposed here. We can see this ambivalence 
in Donne's treatment of the difficult question at the heart of the Oath 
controversy: how to rank the two authorities, temporal and spiritual, in this 
not atypical post-reformation crisis. In a letter to Henry Goodyer written 
before the composition of Pseudo-Martyr Donne identifies the paradox he 
found at the heart of this particular problem, a paradox only partially 
suppressed from his own subsequent contributions to the Oath of Allegiance 

In the main point in question, I think truly there is a perplexity. . . and both 
sides may be in justice and innocence; and the wounds which they inflict 
upon the adverse part are all se defendendo: for, clearly, our State cannot 
be safe without the Oath. . . And, as clearly, the supremacy which the 
Roman Church pretend were diminished, if it were limited; and will as ill 
abide that, or disputation, as the prerogative of temporal kings, who being 
the only judges of their prerogative, why may not Roman bishops. . . be 
good witnesses of their own supremacy, which is now so much im- 

The un solvable problem in the debate is one which Donne, with his relent- 
lessly analogical turn of mind, could not help but see: Catholic attempts to 
impugn the authority of the English royalty weakened the concept of suprem- 
acy on which the Catholic hierarchy itself depended; absolutist theory could 
strengthen the power of the Pope. Of course, writers had been trying to 
distinguish between Papal and princely authority for centuries; the question 
was handled continually not only in Reformation polemic (where it is 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 55 

central) but in earlier disputes about the relative powers of Church and 
Empire.22 For Donne, the problem as it was formulated in early 17th century 
England remained unsolved. It is suggested with some directness in Chapter 
IX of Pseudo-Martyr: 

We may bee bold to say, that there is much iniquity, and many degrees of 
Tyranny, in establishing so absolute and transcendent a spiritual Monar- 
chy, by them, who abhorre Monarchy so much, that. . . they allow no other 
Christian Monarchy upon Earth, so pure and absolute, but that it must 
confesse some subjection and dependencie (p. 179). 

Donne implies here that the "absolute" Papal Monarchy must, for 
consistency's sake, admit the authority of other monarchies; he tactfully 
leaves out the obverse side of the argument, that secular absolutism supports 
broad Papal powers. By insisting on the shared use of the word "monarchy" 
— indistinguishable in the two spheres, temporal and spiritual — Pseudo- 
Martyr here stresses the self-defeating nature of its own argument. 

This problem is also evident, more implicitly, when Donne tries to 
locate "the first originall roote" of power in Chapter Six (p. 166). Donne 
begins considering this question by tracing the original theoretical "roote" 
of standard responses, locating them first in the Roman Church' s claim "That 
that Monarchall forme, and that Hiérarchie, which they have, was instituted 
immediately from God'' (p. 130). In order to match the "Dignities" of the 
Catholic Church, "[m]any wise and iealous Advocates of Secular Authoritie. 
. . have said the same of Re g all power and Jurisdiction" (p. ISO).^^ In this 
intellectual geneology, divine-right theories are traced to the Catholic claim 
that, as the direct heir of saint Peter, the institutional hierarchy was mandated 
directly by Christ. Whatever the accuracy of this statement,^"^ the claim that 
divine right theory originated in Catholicism connects the two kinds of 
"monarchy," spiritual and secular, and casts a pall on Protestant absolutism 
by rooting it in Catholic arguments for the power of the Pope. 

Pseudo-Martyr^ as we have seen, replaces the belief in God's direct 
authorization of princely power with a scenario derived from natural law. 
God is the source of "the Soule of power" in secular government, though He 
does not determine specific governmental form. This theory, however, 
proves also to originate within orthodox Catholic claims for Papal authority: 

[T]hat which a Jésuite said of the Pope, That the Election doth onely 
present him to God, wee say also of a King; That whatsoever it be, that 
prepares him, and makes his Person capable of Regall Jurisdiction, that 

56 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

onely presents him to God, who then inanimates him with this Supremacy 
immediately from himselfe. . . (p. 131). 

As with the direct divine right explanation earlier rejected, this definition 
inevitably strengthens the Papal position which it mirrors: if the King 
receives his sovereignty by having it infused into him by God, so, theoreti- 
cally, could Papal power be so authorized. The opening passages of this 
chapter, then, have highlighted the interrelatedness of papal and monarchical 

A parallel ambivalence to absolutist authority becomes clear in 
Donne's treatment of the chapter's ostensible subject: "A comparison of the 
Obedience due to Princes, with the severall obediences required and exhib- 
ited in the Romane Churche'' (p. 130). Despite this advertisement, ''the 
Obedience due to Princes'' is defined only vaguely. Donne stresses the 
purpose^ rather than the nature, of that secular obedience, making clear that 
obedience is not a virtue in itself but only a means to achieve the final goal 
of secular government: to allow subjects to 'Hive peaceably and religiously 
(p. 132). On the other side of the obedience equation is monarchical sover- 
eignty, also limited and justified by the ultimate good of the commonwealth; 
sovereignty is simply "a power to use all those meanes, which conduce to 
those endes"" (p. 133). So subjects' obedience — and monarchical authority 
— is limited to the spheres, wide though they may be, of "Peace, and. . . 

for power and subjection are so Relative, as since the King commaunds 
in all things conducing to our Peaceable and Religious being, wee must 
obey in all those. This therefore is our first Originary, naturall, and 
Congenite obedience, to obey the Prince. . . (p. 134). 

The ringing tones which proclaim this obedience are tempered by surround- 
ing qualifications. 

And rather than further define the scope of secular obedience the text 
digresses here into a critique of the mindless allegiance demanded by certain 
orders within Roman Catholicism. The church has "extolled and magnified" 
obedience so that it demands from its priestly adherents 

an inconsiderate & undiscoursed and. . . an Indiscreete surrendring of 
themselves, which professe any of the rules of Religion, to the command 
of their Prelate and Superior; by which, like the uncleane beasts, They 
swallow, and never chaw the cudde (p. 134). 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 57 

This bestial image marks an abrupt tonal change: the measured, scholarly 
persona of the chapter's opening paragraphs is transformed into a satirist, 
who describes with apparent relish the grotesque absurdities of Catholic 
humility. Who can sympathize with ''Friar Ruffin: who. . . out of his humility, 
desired that he might stinke when he was dead, and that he might be eaten 
with dogges" (p. 136). "Who would wish 5. Henrie the Dane any health, that 
had seene him, When wormes crawled out of a corrupted Ulcer in his Knee, 
put them in againeT (p. 136)? Donne seems particularly amused by inci- 
dents in which the orders of a superior are taken with absurd literalness: 

Was it due and necessary obedience, when desirous to be instructed in that 
point of Predestination, and his Superiour turning to a place in S. Augus- 
tine, and bidding him read there, being come to the end of the page, but 
not of the sentence, he durst not turne over the leafe, because he was bid 
to read there (p. 135)? 

And the idiocy of such extreme humility is illustrated by Gonzaga, who 
''desir'd to speake in publicke, because hee had an ungracious and ridicu- 
lous imperfection in pronouncing the letter R. . ."; who would not put on 
boots when he was cold, or avoid the plague; and who said, "at the newes of 
his Fathers death. . . that nowe nothing hindered him from saying, OUR 
FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN; As if it had troubled his conscience, 
to say so before" (p. 136). 

As the above excerpts illustrate, Pseudo-Martyr's digressive explora- 
tion of "obedience" has a rhetorical energy absent from the preceding 
theoretical passages on the origins of political power. The narrator himself 
seems carried away by interest in his topic: "though it seeme scarce worthy 
of any further discourse," he says, "yet I cannot deny my selfe the recreation 
of survaying some examples of this blinde and stupid obedience, and false 
humility" (p. 134); he continues in this "further discourse" for five additional 
pages. 2^ There is a political reason for ridiculing such extremes of obedience, 
as Anthony Raspa points out, since by the time of Pseudo-Martyr the tightly 
controlled Jesuitical organization had become a powerful "political instru- 
ment against the power of European secular rulers."^^ But even so, Pseudo- 
Martyr seems oddly energetic in its critique of obedience. Donne's distaste 
for "Indiscreete" obeisance registers in the reader much more powerfully 
than the assertion, repeated with the linguistic power of a platitude through- 
out Chapter Six, that all allegiances "are subordinate to that naturall Obedi- 
ence to your Prince, as Soveraigne controller of all" (p. 137). 

58 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

The closest Pseudo -Martyr comes to presenting a positive definition 
of obedience is in a curiously Utopian depiction of early monastic society, 
worth quoting here at length. Abbeys were at first "not all Chappell but 
Schooles of Sciences" in which "strict obedience" was only latterly imposed 
to maintain order in the face of tremendous institutional growth: 

. . . because they were great confluences of men of divers Nations, 
Dispositions, Breedings, Ages, and Employments, and they could be tied 
together in no knot so strongly, nor meete in any one Center so concur- 
rently, and uniformely, as in the Obedience to one Superior; And what 
this Obedience was, and how farre it extended: Aquinas, who understood 
it well, hath well express 'd. That they are bound to Obey only in those 
things which may belong to their Regular conversation. And this use and 
office, that obedience which is exhibited in our Colledges, fulfills and 
satisfies, without any of these unnatural, childish, stupid, mimique, often 
scandalous, and sometimes rebeUious singularities (p. 138). 

Donne here praises the limited nature of obedience demanded in early 
Abbeys, much as he had earlier stressed the limits of secular obedience. 
Absolute obedience is necessary "only in those things which may belong to 
[the inhabitants'] Regular conversation," just as Donne earlier claimed that 
in a temporal commonwealth obedience was necessary only in "all things 
conducing to our Peaceable and Religious being" (134). Further, this pas- 
sage focuses not on the power of the "one Superior," but on the consensual 
origin of obedience, imposed only in the pursuit of a greater good which 
would redound on the entire community: for monks to be able to "meete in. 
. . one Center so concurrently." Missing in this positive image of a well-or- 
dered society is any reference to the divine sanction of the "one Superior" 
which would preclude any re-organization from below. The ideal common- 
wealth is an intellectual brotherhood, most similar to "that obedience which 
is exhibited in our Colledges" where every member's limitations are bal- 
anced by his rights, and the scope of obedience remains surprisingly narrow. 
Finally, the "childish, stupid" obedience of other Catholic hierarchies is 
itself, oddly though suggestively, described here as potentially "rebellious." 
Again, as in the description of obedience in the temporal sphere, by empha- 
sizing the purpose and limitations of obedience Donne weakens the absolut- 
ist message. 

Despite this impression, Pseudo-Martyr's attack on Catholic under- 
standings of obedience is, in at least one sense, compatible with official 
Jacobean policy. The Oath of Allegiance was designed to separate moderate 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 59 

English Catholics from more radical, mostly Jesuitical contingents. This 
strategy had been in place since the 1590s, when Archbishop Bancroft 
offered a modicum of shelter and support to a group of anti- Jesuit secular 
priests who objected to the drastic rhetoric and radically destabilizing actions 
of the English Jesuit mission-^*^ Known subsequently as the Appellants, this 
group pushed for more moderate policies toward the English monarchy; the 
Allen-Parsons party was their nemesis. 

The creation of the Appellant party resulted from the Pope's appoint- 
ment of an "arch-priest" named Blackwell to oversee Catholic operations in 
England. In what Arnold Pritchard calls "the most obnoxious feature" of 
Blackwell's appointment, he was ordered to clear all important matters with 
Henry Garnet, the head of the Jesuit mission to England, "while Garnet was 
placed under no corresponding obligation to consult Blackwell" (p. 122). In 
the paper war set off by Blackwell's mandate. Cardinal Parsons insisted on 
the absolute obedience due to the church hierarchy, to the extent that verbal 
questioning of Papal decisions could be seen as subversive. The sometime- 
defender of republicanism in the Conference to the Next Succession now 
claimed absolutism as his own: "[0]ur spiritual superiors are most of all 
other men to be respected by us, yea before angels themselves. . . for that 
these men's authority is known evidently to be from God, which in angels 
is not."2^ In response to Parson's image "of the divine will descending 
through the church hierarchy," dissenters among the Appellants "usually 
portray a church run by rules and regulations independent of the will of any 
of its members; their view is essentially legalistic and, one can sometimes 
say, constitutionalist."^^ 

The attack on obedience in Pseudo-Martyr echoes in a number of ways 
Appellant problems with Papal authority. But even though Donne's engage- 
ment with this debate aligns him with the larger royal "divide and conquer" 
strategy, it also puts him right back in the middle of the problem identified 
in the Goodyer letter. For by siding with the Appellants, Donne supports a 
relatively conditional view of authority, as they did — one inevitably 
applicable to the "monarchy" of England as well as the "monarchy" of the 
Pope. Since Donne has already drawn attention to the parallels between royal 
and papal authority, this attack on obedience becomes obliquely applicable 
to secular obedience too. 

Of course, for all these subtle internal contradictions, Pseudo-Martyr 
certainly performed its purpose: it got its author the attention of the King, 
and led, however indirectly, to preferment, fame, and relative fortune. The 

60 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

book has little in it that could have been offensive to main-stream absolutist 
thought. But its tensions and ambivalences should make us leery of ascribing 
too great a reverence for authority even to the now-emerging Dr. Donne. As 
Pseudo-Martyr stresses continuities between Catholic and Protestant polit- 
ical thought, so it should alert us to continuities between the Donne of the 
Songs and Sonnets and Donne, the accomplished scholar and future Dean of 
Saint Paul's. Pseudo-Martyr's awareness that terms from one side of an 
opposition so easily slide into their counter principle is oddly reminiscent of 
the metaphorical mechanics of much of Donne's poetry, in which, for 
example, theological doctrine is deployed to analyze love relationships, and 
conversely, faith is figured erotically . Pseudo-Martyr also reveals an ambiv- 
alence toward authority reminiscent of the speaker in "The Sunne Rising," 
who claims of his lover, "She is all states, and all princes, I, / Nothing else 
is." While these lines at once destroy the prerogative of the King seen idly 
off to the hunt in stanza one, they seem simultaneously to elevate princely 
prerogative by expanding it to an almost cosmic status. Finally, Pseudo-Mar- 
tyr suggests that Donne's life-long involvement with Catholic doctrine and 
controversy shaped not only his spiritual and psychological constitution, but 
his political attitudes as well. 

Utah State University 


1 . See John Carey. Jofm Donne: Life, Mind and Art (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1981); Arthur 
Marotti, John Donne, Coterie Poet (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1986); David 
Norbrook, "The Monarchy of Wit and the Republic of Letters" in Soliciting Interpretation, 
ed. Elizabeth D. Harvey and Katharine Eisaman Maus (Chicago: University of Chicago, 
1990), 3-36, and Annabel Patterson, "Quod oportet versus quod convenit: John Donne, 
Kingsman?" in Reading Between the Lines (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1993), pp. 

2. The Crisis of the Constitution: An Essay in Constitutionalist and Political Thought in 
England, 1603-45 (New York: Octagon Books, 1964 [1949]). 

3. On the intersection of Donne's private and public motives in writing Pseudo-Martyr see 
Anthony Raspa's introduction to his recent edition (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- 
Queens University Press, 1993), pp. xxxviii-hv; Raspa's essay is also the best general 
introduction to the work. 

Phebe Jensen / "The Obedience due to Princes" / 61 

4. A quality noted of the book's theological content by Raspa in "Time, History and 
Typology in John Donne's Pseudo-Martyr, '' Renaissance and Reformation, 11 (1987), 

5. Debora Shuger comes to very different conclusions about Donne's absolutism in Habits 
of Thought in the English Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); 
her analysis is focused, however, on the sermons instead of Pseudo-Martyr. 

6. The text of the oath is from J.P. Kenyon. The Stuart Constitution (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1966), p. 459. 

7. The complaint is from the Catholic Archpriest Blackwell (administrative head of CathoHcs 
in England), qtd. in Charles Mcllwain, ed. The Political Works of James I (New York: 
Russell & Russell, 1965), p. lix, n. 3. 

8. The text is from King James' own "Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance" (Mcllwain, 83) 
in which Bellarmine is quoted extensively. 

9. See Mcllwain's discussion of the controversy in his introduction (pp. xlix-lxxx); see also 
J.H.M. Salmon. "Catholic Resistance theory, Ultramontanism, and the Royalist Response, 
1580-1620," in The Cambridge History of Political Thought, ed. J.H. Bums (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 219-253, especially pp. 247-253. 

10. On the amalgamation of various philosophical traditions in these arguments, see Richard 
Tuck, Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1993), especially pp. 137-146 and 260-265. 

11. See on resistance theories generally Quentin Skinner. The Foundations of Modem 
Political Thought, 2 volumes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), II: 191- 
238 and II: 302-348; and J.P. Sommerville. Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
(London: Longman, 1986), pp. 69-77. 

12. Quoted by Robert Filmer, in his Patriarchia, in Patriarchia and Other Writings, ed. 
Johann P. Sommerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 5-6. 

13. A Conference to the Next Succession of the Crown of England, 2 volumes (London, 1594). 
Though this work pre-dated the Oath controversy it was often cited in those debates to 
prove the inevitably seditious nature of Cathohc political thought. 

14. Mcllwain, pp. xcii-xciv. 

15. The 1606 edition (tr. Richard Knowles) has been reprinted in facsimile as The Six Bookes 
of a Commonweale, ed. Kenneth Douglas McRae (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 
1962). On Bodin's concept of sovereignty, see McRae, Introduction, A 1 3-A22; Julian H. 
Franklin. Jean Bodin and the Rise of Absolutist Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 1973), passim; and Skinner, II, pp. 284-301. 

16. P. 131. This and subsequent references are to the 1993 Raspa edition (see above, n.3). 

17. On controversy over dating this work, see Sommerville' s introductory essay to his edition, 
'The Date of Filmer's Patriarcha" (p. xxxii-xxxiv). See also Richard Tuck, "A New Date 

62 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

for Filmer' s Patriarchal The Historical Journal, 29, 1 ( 1 986), pp. 1 83- 1 86: "The authors 
dealt with, and in many ways the issues. . . belong to the period between 1606 and 1614 
when James I was in conflict with his Catholic opponents over the Oath of Allegiance" 
(p. 185). 

18. Mcllwain, p. 65. 

19. Ninety -Six Sermons by the Right Honourable and Reverend Father in God, Lancelot 
Andrewes (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1 841 ; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1967), 4, p. 48. 

20. Quoted in Somerville, p. 30. 

21. From Edmund Gosse. The Life and Letters of John Donne Dean of St. Paul's (London, 
1899; rpt. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1959). 

22. Three of the contemporary and medieval disputes which "touched directly on the defini- 
tion of secular and spiritual powers" (p. xxiii) constitute a lion's share of Donne's 
references in Pseudo-Martyr, as Raspa suggests in his "Introduction": "the conflict 
between Paul V and the state of Venice. . . the simmering quarrel between the Spanish 
crown and the papacy. . . [and] the now historic twelfth-century quarrel between Pope 
Saint Gregory VII and the German Emperor Henry IV over lay investiture" (pp. xxiii-iv). 

23. This question of theoretical geneology is slightly different than the problem of the 
chronology of the development of secular and religious societies; on that issue, Donne 
"argued that the existence of the spiritual state originated from an already existing temporal 
state" (Raspa, p. xlviii). 

24. In fact, the theory that monarchs received direct authorization from God probably 
originates, at least in the sixteenth century, with Luther, who "could scarcely be more 
explicit in acknowledging that all political authority is derived from God" (Skinner 11, p. 
15). The Thomist revival. Skinner suggests, is largely a response to this heresy (II, pp. 

25. Five pages, that is, in the original 1610 text. See the facsimile edition, reprinted with an 
introduction by Francis Jacques Sypher (Delmar, New York: Scholars' Facsimiles & 
Reprints, 1974). 

26. Thomas S. Clancy. Papist Pamphleteers (Chicago: Loyala University Press, 1964), pp. 
79-87; also Arnold Pritchard, Catholic Loyalism in Elizabethan England (Chapel Hill: 
University of North Carolina Press, 1979), pp. 120-174. 

27. A Briefe Apology or Defence of the Catholic Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 204-4b; quoted in 
Pritchard, p. 131. 

28. Pritchard, pp. 133-134. 

Christianisme, métaphysique 

et épistémologie 
chez Marsile Ficin 


Résumé: Ficin centre la hiérarchie universelle sur l'homme, au sens d'une 
âme raisonnable. Métaphysiquement, la description substantialiste qu'en 
donne Kristeller ne semble pas pouvoir se comprendre sans l'apport héno- 
logique des hypostases et la transformation chrétienne de cet apport. Cas- 
sirer, Allen, Lohr et Bréhier permettent de mieux y cerner le rôle de l'amour 
et de la vie. Certains changements épistémologiques découlent de cette 
transformation métaphysique. Le rapport de Ficin à Descartes est éclairé. 

Marsile Ficin a vécu de 1433 à 1499. Il est né près de Florence et sa vie s'est 
trouvée marquée par celle de la famille des Médicis. En effet, en 1462, Come 
de Médicis a mis ses manuscrits grecs à sa disposition et Ta fait bénéficier 
de sa villa à Careggi où Ficin a dirigé une Académie platonicienne à laquelle 
Laurent de Médicis prendra part. Cependant, 

Ficino had been selected for this position, not only because of his previous 
associations with the house of the Medici, but also because of his extensive 
training in both Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy, his sympathy with 
the revival of Platonism against the monopoly of Aristotelianism, and his 
thorough understanding of the problems involved in that revival.' 

Selon Raymond Marcel,^ Ficin a rédigé la Théologie platonicienne 
immédiatement après avoir achevé son Commentaire sur le Banquet de 
Platon en 1469.^ De fait, il s'agit d'une recherche ayant duré dix ans et ayant 
conduit à la rédaction de 18 livres pendant une période de cinq ans. Ainsi, 
Ficin a commencé sa recherche vers 1458 et a rédigé l'ouvrage de 1469 à 
1474. L'oeuvre elle-même n'a été imprimée qu'en 1482. Pendant ce temps, 
Ficin a été ordonné prêtre en 1473, ce qui met en lumière l'importance du 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 3 (1995) /63 

64 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

christianisme pour lui et l'impact éventuel de celui-ci sur son oeuvre.^ Or, 
Ficin est considéré comme un représentant important du renouveau 
néoplatonicien, ne serait-ce que par ses traductions et commentaires de 
Platon et Plotin, les premiers dont le courant humaniste et, finalement, 
l'Europe elle-même a bénéficié. La traduction latine des oeuvres de Platon, 
commencée en 1463, est complétée en 1477 et imprimée en 1484. Quant aux 
oeuvres de Plotin, la période de la traduction s'étend de 1484 à 1486 et la 
publication survient en 1492. En 1489, Ficin est accusé de pratiquer la magie 
à cause de la tendance mystique de sa philosophie, mais il est sauvé par des 
amis influents des conséquences habituelles d'un tel délit. Finalement, avec 
l'expulsion des Médicis hors de Florence en 1494, Ficin a dû se retirer. 

Gardons à l'esprit ce bref résumé de la vie de Ficin: le mécénat des 
Médicis, le christianisme de Ficin, sa connaissance d'auteurs chrétiens 
comme Augustin et Thomas d' Aquin et sa contribution au renouveau plato- 
nicien, à rencontre de l'emprise de l'aristotélisme. Et, dans cette perspec- 
tive, demandons-nous quel peut être, dans son oeuvre, le rapport entre le 
christianisme, la doctrine néoplatonicienne des hypostases et l'idée de sub- 
stance, que l'on retrouvait chez les Grecs de l'Antiquité, mais qui a reçu un 
développement particulièrement important dans l'aristotélico-thomisme. 
Plus spécifiquement, interrogeons-nous sur le sens qu'il faut accorder à la 
hiérarchie universelle, telle qu'elle se trouve centrée sur l'âme par laquelle 
l'homme se définit chez Ficin. 

Christianisme et métaphysique 

Dans la Théologie platonicienne, Ficin définit l'homme par l'âme raisonn- 
able et situe celle-ci au centre de la hiérarchie universelle, entre Dieu et le 
monde, tout en faisant intervenir l'intelligibilité angélique entre l'âme et 
Dieu, de même que la qualité entre l'âme et le monde. Kristeller émet, à ce 
sujet, le commentaire suivant: "The scheme of the five substances presup- 
poses the central position of the soul, and it was constructed by Ficino for 
the purpose of making the soul appear the accurate centre of a comprehensive 
ontological hierarchy."^ Or, s'il est difficile de contester le fait que la 
hiérarchie universelle présuppose la position centrale de l'âme, il est moins 
évident que cette hiérarchie s'énonce principalement en termes de sub- 
stances plutôt que d'hypostases. Pour savoir si l'interprétation de la 
hiérarchie universelle en termes d'hypostases prévaut sur l'interprétation qui 
s'énonce par des termes substantiels, en particulier en ce qui concerne le 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 65 

rapport entre l'âme et Dieu, je propose d'interroger une oeuvre antérieure à 
la Théologie platonicienne: le Commentaire sur le Banquet de Platon. Il 
s'agit de mettre en évidence non seulement le processus par lequel la 
nouvelle hiérarchie universelle s'élabore, en faisant découler les substances 
des hypostases, mais aussi la transformation chrétienne du dynamisme 
hénologique qui y préside. 

Le Commentaire sur le Banquet de Platon se compose de sept discours 
qui, comme l'indique le titre de l'ouvrage, s'inspirent du Banquet de Platon. 
Les discours ont été initialement attribués par tirage au sort, de telle sorte 
que chaque orateur pouvait reprendre et commenter l'intervention de l'un 
des sept personnages de Platon. Dans tous les cas, il s'agit de faire l'éloge 
de l'amour. Cependant, ce n'est pas seulement Platon qui inspire Ficin. En 
effet, r ouvrage est dédié à Jean Cavalcanti et cette dédicace précise que Ficin 
cherche, par là, à lui rendre ce qui lui appartient.^ Tel est l'esprit général de 
l'ouvrage: l'amour, essentiellement divin, manifeste sa vie étemelle, par 
l'intermédiaire des hommes, dans les choses mortelles. Dès les deux pre- 
miers discours, Ficin donne une définition de l'Amour par le désir de la 
Beauté, puis une définition de cette Beauté par le cercle que l'Amour 
accomplit en allant du bien au bien (selon Pseudo-Denys). En effet. Dieu est 
essentiellement bon et par la Beauté, cette Bonté "engendre l'Amour, c'est- 
à-dire le désir d'elle-même,"'' de telle sorte que 

ce seul et même cercle qui va de Dieu au monde et du monde à Dieu porte 
trois noms: Beauté, en tant qu'il prend naissance et attire en Dieu, Amour, 
en tant qu'il passe dans le monde et le ravit, Plaisir, en tant qu'il revient 
à son auteur et l'unit à son oeuvre.* 

Ficin nous laisse ainsi déjà entrevoir la triple perspective du cercle entre Dieu 
et le monde: Beauté-Amour-Plaisir. Or, Dieu, au sens de l'Un-Bien, 
s'exprime selon le rapport entre la Beauté intérieure, par laquelle la Bonté 
(ou le Bien) initie le triple mouvement de son rapport au monde, et la Beauté 
extérieure, d'où sont issues les quatre hypostases qui s'ajoutent à l'Un. En 
effet, la Beauté (intérieure) ne nous introduit pas seulement au mouvement 
trinitaire de Dieu vers le monde, mais, comme Beauté (extérieure), elle 
indique aussi l'émergence du cercle global, de la circonférence initiale qui 
se différencie en quatre cercles: "l'intelligence, l'âme, la nature et la 
matière."^ En reliant Dieu et ces quatre cercles par le Beau, nous recon- 
naissons déjà la hiérarchie universelle au sens ficinien. Surtout, nous 
apercevons le rapport global entre la multiplicité (des cercles) et l'unité 
(divine), antérieurement à toute considération de l'être qui s'y différencie 

66 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

selon ce qui est substantiellement lié à lui-même, au sein d'une telle 
hiérarchie ontologique explicite. Cependant, c'est seulement au niveau des 
quatre cercles de la Beauté qu'il est question de l'émanation hénologique 
conmie telle, puisque c'est seulement alors que chaque hypostase englobe 
la suivante et peut la ramener en elle-même. Avant cette linéarité, il y a le 
rapport entre le Bien, qui est l'existence suréminente de Dieu, et le Beau, 
qui en est un acte (CBP, 152). Or, le rapport entre le Bien et le Beau, c'est 
le rapport respectif entre une beauté cachée et une beauté qui la manifeste 
par des signes, c'est-à-dire entre une perfection intérieure et une perfection 
extérieure (CBP, 179-180). 

De plus, la Bonté divine, en produisant par amour, donne aussi la vie 
et s'identifie à l'Un.^® Par ce lien privilégié de l'Un à la vie, plutôt qu'à 
l'intelligence, il devient évident que l'amour, défini comme désir de Beauté 
(CBP, 142), est bien le passage de Dieu dans le monde, par les signes de sa 
manifestation, et le ravissement de ce monde par Dieu, par le renvoi de ces 
signes à Dieu alors qu'il s'y épanouit. Cette théodicée de l'art permet donc 
à l'homme de trouver, par l'amour, le maître et le guide des arts, l'auteur et 
le conservateur de toutes choses (CBP, 163-164). Enfin, l'amour est aussi 
la condition du plaisir, en tant qu'il y a retour du monde à son auteur et 
l'union de celui-ci à son oeuvre. 

C'est dans cette triple perspective du cercle entre Dieu et le monde. 
Beauté- Amour-Plaisir, que les hypostases prennent place,^^ selon le rapport 
entre la Bonté divine et la Beauté, c'est-à-dire selon l'acte et la forme {CBPy 
147). Ainsi, un cercle trinitaire, d'inspiration chrétienne, ^^ intervient au sein 
même de l'Un et transforme profondément l'émanation hénologique, autant 
par l'intervention d'une cause, affectant la forme que peut prendre la 
hiérarchie universelle, que par le privilège accordé à l'amour plutôt qu'à 
l'intelligence. En effet, selon l'acte, le rayon de la Beauté (et les quatre 
cercles qui en découlent) tourne autour de Dieu en s'en éloignant et en étant 
appelé à y revenir d'une chute d'autant plus grande que l'éloignement est 
prononcé. En ce sens, la Beauté produit quatre expressions se manifestant 
en quatre cercles: 

un tel rayon reproduit en eux toutes ces espèces de choses que nous avons 
coutume d'appeler idées, quand elles sont dans l'intelligence, raisons, 
quand elles sont dans l'âme, semences, quand elles sont dans la nature et 
formes, quand elles sont dans la matière.'^ 

Le Beau est ce rayon qui émane de Dieu et "pénètre en tout" (omnia 
penetrans, CBO, 152). De même, selon la forme, la comparaison entre les 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 67 

différents types de Beauté, celle de Dieu, celle de Tange, celle de Tâme, celle 
du corps, permet d'assurer qu'il est question d'hypostases et non de sub- 
stances. "La comparaison qui existe entre les quatre degrés d'être se retrouve 
identique entre leurs formes;"^'* la beauté de l'âme surgit de celle du corps 
en enlevant à la forme corporelle le poids de la matière et les limites du lieu 
pour garder le reste; la beauté de l'ange surgit lorsqu'est retirée la marche 
du temps et retenue la multiplicité; la beauté de Dieu apparaît avec l'unité 
lorsqu'on supprime la multiplicité. En somme, contrairement à l'âme dans 
ses rapports avec le corps. 

Jamais Dieu ne s'abuse au point d'aimer l'ombre de sa beauté dans le 
corps et de négliger sa propre et vraie beauté, pas plus que l'ange n'est 
captivé par la beauté de l'âme qui est son ombre au point que, retenu par 
son ombre, il abandonne sa propre figure'^ 

C'est donc la même comparaison qui sous-tend l'altérité des degrés 
hiérarchiques entre eux et, déjà, ceux-ci ne s'affirment ontologiquement que 
par l'établissement amoureux de "l'union véritable de la substance à elle- 
même"'^ et non par la seule affirmation formelle de ces substances par 

La Théologie platonicienne n'est pas moins explicite sur ce sujet. 
"Dans la vie présente, l'amour humain pour Dieu l'emporte sur la connais- 
sance humaine, parce que personne ne connaît véritablement Dieu."'^ C'est 
par l'amour et non par la contemplation que l'âme devient divine, alors 
même qu'il s'agit de se connaître soi-même pour connaître Dieu.'^ Or, 
l'amour ne se satisfait pas de la connaissance humaine, qui est limitée dès 
sa création. Par contre, la religion, qui consiste en cet amour, apparaît comme 
étant "plus éloignée de l'erreur que toutes les autres sciences humaines et 
elle l'est d'autant plus qu'elle nous unit plus étroitement à Dieu, souveraine 
vérité."*^ Dans l'amour, c'est donc la définition de la spécificité humaine 
par la religion que formule Ficin. De même, Ficin rattache aussi la connais- 
sance humaine à la souveraine vérité de Dieu à laquelle cette religion nous 
donne accès, en apparaissant elle-même comme une science humaine. Cas- 
sirer a vu juste sur ce point, en remarquant que la réciprocité du rapport entre 
l'âme et Dieu semble se fonder sur "la doctrine de l'éros, qui est le pivot 
véritable de la psychologie de Ficin" et qui fait appel, chez lui, à sa "théorie 
de la volonté humaine plutôt que celle de la connaissance. "^^ 

Cependant, il faut aussi tenir compte du fait que Veros, l'amour 
platonique, "est fort différent de l'amour de Dieu (caritas) que l'Évangile 
met au sommet des vertus"^' et qui se fonde, au sein des rapports humains, 

68 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

dans l'hétérogénéité du prochain par rapport à celui qui Taime. Aimer Dieu 
pour devenir soi-même Dieu, lors du rapport au Dieu-Un, et aimer Dieu en 
r homme, ce n'est ni aimer Dieu tel qu'il se fait homme, ni aimer cet homme 
pour lui-même. Ainsi, même si le mot "charité" (cariîas) se trouve dans le 
texte de Ficin, il reste à s'interroger sur le rapport ficinien entre l'usage de 
celui-ci et l'usage du mot "idée": "quiconque ici-bas se consacre à Dieu par 
charité se retrouvera finalement en Dieu, car il retournera à son idée grâce 
à laquelle il fut créé."^^ Cette idée est-elle celle d'un Dieu personnel, à la 
façon d'Augustin, ou celle d'un Dieu-Un, à la façon néo-platonicienne? En 
optant pour une création de l'âme par Dieu plutôt que par l'ange, c'est-à-dire 
par l'intelligible, Ficin opte, au moins en partie, pour le message chrétien 
(TP, T.l, L. 5, 203). L'âme ne peut plus émaner de l'intelligence, comme 
dans le néoplatonisme, bien qu'il faille aussi considérer que Ficin identifie 
l'intelligible à l'Ange, d'inspiration chrétienne. En ce sens, l'intelligible 
(l'Ange) voit son importance s' amoindrir. ^^ 

Par contre, c'est bien au centre d'une hiérarchie néoplatonicienne 
modifiée que Ficin situe l'âme et qu'il tente de proposer aux théologiens 
chrétiens une différenciation de l'âme en trois degrés: l'âme du monde, l'âme 
des sphères et l'âme de chacun des êtres vivants contenus dans chacune des 
sphères (TP, T.l, L. 4, en particulier 165). Le rapport entre le christianisme 
et le néoplatonisme est donc complexe. En effet, si l'homme, c'est râme,^'^ 
cette âme doit aimer Dieu, en se consacrant à lui par charité, afin de se 
retrouver en lui en retournant à l'idée par laquelle elle fut créée, de telle sorte 
qu'en aimant Dieu l'âme s'aime elle-même: "un homme réel et l'idée 
d'homme, c'est la même chose."^^ Il est donc question d'un amour indirect 
de soi, puisqu'il passe par la médiation de l'amour de Dieu (où se trouve 
l'idée de soi), et, surtout, par la médiation de l'engendrement d'un tel amour 
indirect de soi. En effet, en aimant Dieu en tout, donc aussi en nous-mêmes, 
nous pouvons finalement tout aimer en Dieu, et obtenir un tel amour indirect 
de soi. L'homme commence à partager avec Dieu le pouvoir de création de 
ce dernier, du fait qu'il peut au moins recréer ce que celui-ci crée, à 
commencer par le rapport qu'il est possible d'entretenir avec soi-même et, 
par là, avec le monde. Ainsi, la définition initiale de la Beauté, comme désir 
de Beauté {CBP, 42), est bien devenue, par l'amour des hommes, "un désir 
d'engendrer dans le beau pour entretenir une vie étemelle dans les choses 
mortelles."^^ C'est cette double dimension indirecte et immanente de l'a- 
mour qui s'énonce dynamiquement: "God became man so that man might 
become God."^^ Par conséquent, le cercle allant de Dieu au monde et du 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 69 

monde à Dieu se trouve centré sur Thomme.^^ C'est ce qu'explique la 
Théologie platonicienne, en situant, dès le premier livre, l'âme au centre de 
la hiérarchie universelle. 

De plus, l'examen de la Théologie platonicienne fait apparaître que 
Ficin intellectualise la volonté, du fait de l'antériorité de l'intellect sur elle; 
il ramène aussi la volonté à la vie de l'âme, car l'intellect, sous-tendant cette 
volonté, est lui-même renvoyé à l'antériorité de la vie {TP, T. 2, L. 9, 46). 
Dans cette vie de l' âme, la volonté divine s'exprime par un amour intellectuel 
(TP, T. 1, L. 2, 112) et, en retour, l'âme s'unit à Dieu par l'amour au lieu de 
s'en séparer par la connaissance {TP, T. 2, L. 14, 292). En effet, l'âme se 
définit essentiellement par la vie: "une vie qui comprend en raisonnant et 
qui anime le corps dans le temps. "^^ C'est par l'intellect que l'âme comprend, 
c'est-à-dire qu'elle est informée par Dieu, pendant qu'elle raisonne. C'est 
par l'union de la vie de l'âme au Dieu- Un que l'âme raisonne, en prenant 
l'intellect comme partie et limite supérieure de cette raison, et qu'elle s'unit 
au corps, par sa partie vitale qui donne une limite inférieure à la raison, mais 
en regard de la bonté divine. Si l'âme veut le bien. Dieu veut la bonté même 
de ce qui est bien: "appelons Unité, le principe. Vérité, la raison du principe, 
enfin Bonté, l'amour du principe raisonnable."^® Tout semble se présenter 
comme un développement linéaire (Unité, Vérité, Bonté) et faire différem- 
ment appel à l'âme: comme vie informée par l'Un auquel elle s'unit, comme 
raison placée sous l'intellect dans l'aperception de la vie, comme amour par 
lequel s'exprime la volonté s'adressant au Bien. Pourtant, il s'agit d'un 
cercle où l'origine et la fin coincident, par l'intégration de l'Unité et de la 
Bonté, et l'emportent sur la connaissance, sa recherche intellectuelle de la 
vérité et sa problématique de l'être. En effet, la fin et l'origine se confondent 
dans l'énoncé du principe et par l'amour de ce principe, tout comme le 
caractère raisonnable initialement déposé dans l'âme raisonnable revient au 
principe qui l'y dépose. Ainsi, alors même qu'il chante les louanges du 
thomisme, dont il est question pendant tout le Livre 2 de la Théologie 
platonicienne, Ficin déplace les enjeux. Le principe dont il parle, c'est l'Un 
et non pas l'Être. De plus, il n'est question de l'être que par la vérité qui le 
donne, cette vérité désignant la raison du principe et non le principe lui- 

Cependant, le néoplatonisme n'en sort pas indemne non plus. En effet, 
comme le fait remarquer Kristeller, "Ficino's concept of God contains the 
essential attributes both of the Plotinian One and of the Plotinian mind."^^ 
Par contre, ce que Kristeller oublie, c'est que cet Un est intégré à la Bonté, 

70 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

d'où un autre principe et sa limite: la contemplation intellectuelle est insuf- 
fisante.-^^ Surtout, il néglige le rapport entre la vie (de l'âme) et T Un-Bon 
qui caractérise le rapport spécifique que Ficin établit entre Tâme et Dieu. 
Par contre, l'intelligence plotinienne (mens) se trouve intégrée à la fois à 
Dieu et à l'âme, d'où, dans ce dernier cas, l'importance nouvelle accordée 
à l'intellect dans l'âme. Or, l'intelligence plotinienne reste statique, alors 
que, chez Ficin, elle est contrainte de tenir compte de son rapport au 
dynamisme inhérent à la vie, c'est-à-dire à la mobilité inhérente à l'âme, par 
la raison mise en elle par Dieu. 


La principale idée de Dieu, c'est celle de l'ordre (7P, T. 1, L. 2, 109), 
intégrant la multiplicité^^ et, dans la mesure où l'intellect humain commence 
à saisir l'ordre, l'âme commence à comprendre son mouvement au sein de 
cet ordre alors qu'elle raisonne et, ainsi, aborde successivement ce qui est 
simultané en l'idée divine de l'ordre. Il est important de remarquer le 
parallèle anthropologique entre la métaphysique (Dieu, Intelligibilité 
angélique. Âme, Qualité, Corps) et l'épistémologie qui correspond à cette 
métaphysique et qui se met rationnellement en place avec la Théologie 
platonicienne: 1) Intellect permettant de se connaître soi-même à la façon 
de Dieu, qui a mis la raison des choses en l'âme par son idée de l'ordre de 
ces choses; 2) Raison qui apparaît comme partie intermédiaire de l'âme, alors 
que celle-ci est informée de cet ordre des choses par son intellect; 3) Raison 
comme centre propre par lequel l'âme se meut (vit) et unit ces choses en 
dominant cet ordre (TP, T. 2, L. 13, 230 et 276); 4) Raison débordant en 
irrationalité (7P, T. 1, L. 5, 208), alors que celle-ci génère les qualités (lors 
de l'union de l'âme au corps et l'exercice passif de la raison par la fantaisie); 
5) Vie énonçant le réel engagement ontologique de l'âme à l'égard du corps 
(TP, T. 3, L. 15, 67), alors qu'elle est intellectuellement informée par Dieu 
en raisonnant ainsi. En ce sens, ce n'est pas l'âme qui devient identique à sa 
propre mens,^^ alors que l'intelligibilité angélique cesse d'être un être 
objectif pour devenir un état subjectif. C'est plutôt l'âme qui s'approprie son 
mouvement, essentiellement rationnel, dans son rapport subjectif à l' Unité- 
Bonté. Par contre, cet état subjectif n'implique pas une subjectivité définie 
par une âme réellement pensante à laquelle il serait possible de rattacher cet 
état subjectif et ses transformations. Aussi, la raison reste subordonnée à 
l'intellect afin de rendre compte de l'ordre comme principale idée de Dieu. 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, mét^hysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 71 

D'où l'absence d'un ordre des raisons qui, s'il parvient à exister, ne peut que 
dépendre paradoxalement de l'ordre des choses. Pourtant, il est dorénavant 
évident que la métaphysique, en se trouvant centrée sur l'âme, est intime- 
ment reliée à l' épistémologie mise en oeuvre par la raison qui, en cette âme, 
correspond à cette métaphysique. Cependant, c'est bien la raison qui évolue 
au gré de l'âme et non l'inverse. En ce sens, l'état subjectif, dont il est 
question ici, est celui de l'âme avant d'être celui de la raison. De même, la 
vie a préséance sur l'intellect, lorsqu'il est aussi question de définir le rapport 
que l'âme entretient avec elle-même par sa raison. 

L'âme pourrait donc s'identifier à son intellect, puisque celui-ci est mis 
en évidence lors de la disparition éventuelle de l'ange; mais elle ne le fait 
pas. En effet, la raison demeure le centre de l'âme et elle reste subordonnée 
à l'intellect, sans que le rapport entre l'âme et la raison, de même que celui 
entre la vie et l'intellect, s'inversent au profit du second terme de ces deux 
rapports. Par conséquent, l'âme ne peut s'identifier à la pensée et à l'orien- 
tation intellectuelle de celle-ci. De même, l' intellect ne peut pas se renommer 
"entendement," comme le propose l'usage modeme.^^ Dès lors, le poids 
métaphysique de l'ordre des choses s'impose à l'orientation épistémologi- 
que de l'ordre des raisons, dans le rapport vitaliste de l'âme à l' Un-Bien, où, 
seulement, se forme le lien substantiel de tout être à lui-même, cet être 
devenant alors accessible à la connaissance et à la recherche de la vérité. Si 
l'âme s'identifiait réellement à l'orientation intellectuelle de sa pensée, 
comme chez Descartes, la vie de l'âme se trouverait aussi rompue, de telle 
sorte que la vie ne relèverait plus de l'âme, mais du corps, mécaniquement 
interprété par l'automatisme du mouvement. 


Ficin choisit l' Un-Bien et, par lui, il choisit aussi une raison située au sein 
d'une âme que cet Un-Bien informe intellectuellement en lui donnant la vie; 
Descartes choisira l'Etre et le Vrai et, par eux, il choisira aussi un ordre des 
raisons qui est enclos dans les limites d'un entendement propre à une âme 
pensante. Or, comme le fait remarquer Dubarle, la tradition philosophique 
ancienne pense le rapport entre la raison et l'intellect en donnant le pas à 
l'intellect, tandis que l'usage moderne tend à remplacer le mot latin in- 
tellectus par le mot "entendement" et, par là, à donner le pas à la raison sur 
l'entendement.^^ Ficin semble appartenir à la philosophie ancienne, en autant 
qu'il subordonne la raison à l'intellect. Par contre, en même temps, la raison 

72 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

acquiert, chez lui, une dimension nouvelle qui la rapproche de la position 
moderne: elle se trouve au centre de l'âme qui, elle-même, se trouve au centre 
de la hiérarchie universelle. Le moteur de cette hiérarchie est l'intégration 
de l'Un et du Bien, par une trinité chrétienne y insufflant littéralement la vie, 
au sens causal du terme. Car l'amour divin du Bien envers lui-même y est 
essentiellement un pouvoir humain de vivification, par lequel l'âme, par son 
intellect, est informée de cet amour divin, alors qu'elle raisonne et anime le 
corps dans le temps. C'est une telle vie, déjà humaine, que Descartes pourra 
exclure hors de l'âme, dorénavant identifiée à la pensée, afin de la lier au 
corps. L'humanité même de l'homme glissera alors de sa vie à sa pensée et 
trouvera sa formalisation spirituelle à laquelle nous identifions si facilement, 
peut-être trop facilement, le début de la modernité et l'instauration de la 
subjectivité qui y préside. Car l'enchaînement des états de cette subjectivité 
s'exprime de façon bien différente selon ce que l'orientation spirituelle du 
rapport entre la vie et la pensée nous permet d'apercevoir du rapport 
anthropologique entre l'âme et la raison, par lequel la modernité s'inaugure 
de Ficin à Descartes. ^^ 

Université Laurentienne 

1. Jayne A. M. Reynolds Sears, "Introduction," dans Marsilio Ficino's Commentary on 
Plato's Symposium (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1944), pp. 16-17. Ensuite, Sears 
présente sa traduction de la seconde version du Commentaire sur le Banquet de Platon, 
probablement écrite par Ficin entre octobre 1474 et mars 1475. 

2. Marsile Ficin, Théologie platonicienne, texte critique établi et traduit par Raymond Marcel 
(Paris, Les Belles Lettres), tome 1, page 17 (indiquée TP ci-après dans le texte). Aussi: 
Marsile Ficin, Commentaire sur le Banquet de Platon, texte du manuscrit autographe 
présenté et traduit par Raymond Marcel (Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1956). (Indiquée CBP 
ci-après dans le texte). 

3. Ce dernier ouvrage s'intitulait De Amore. Écrit en 1469, il ne fut imprimé qu'en 1484, 
c'est-à-dire deux ans après l'impression de la Théologie platonicienne. D'où l'importance 
de l'analyse de Marcel qui tente de retracer le lien historique réel entre les deux oeuvres 
quant à leur ordre de rédaction. 

4. À ce sujet, voir F. Vemet, "Ficin, Marsile," dans Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, t. 
5, deuxième partie (Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1913), pp. 2277-2291. Tempérant certains 
jugements qui ont été portés contre Ficin, Vemet admet que le "culte" de Ficin pour Platon 
fut excessif sans y voir, cependant, un paganisme déguisé ou qui s'ignore. Vemet va même 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 73 

jusqu'à qualifier Ficin d"'humaniste chrétien," du fait qu'il a travaillé à "dissocier 
l'antiquité et le paganisme" (p. 2290). 

5. Paul Oskar Kristeller, The Philosophy ofMarsilio Ficino (New York, Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1943), p. 400. 

6. Cette dimension humaine à la base de la réflexion ficinienne préside au rapport entre le 
christianisme et la métaphysique. Pour s'en rendre compte, il suffit de rapprocher cette 
dédicace du contenu de l'oeuvre en question: "celui qui aime meurt," "l'amour est une 
mort volontaire," "l' âme de l'amant n'est pas en elle-même. Si elle n'est pas en elle-même, 
elle ne vit pas non plus en elle-même et ce qui ne vit pas est mort. Voilà pourquoi 
quiconque aime est mort à lui-même. Mais vit-il au moins dans un autre? Assurément 
{CBP, 156). On comprendra alors le sens de la réciprocité, afin de ne pas laisser celui qui 
aime pour mort, et l'importance de la présente dédicace. Cependant, on comprendra que 
la subjectivité soit difficile à discerner, chez Ficin, puisqu'elle suit le chemin inverse de 
celle qu'énoncera Descartes, en s'affirmant en lui-même et en se donnant accès à ce qui 
lui est extérieur qu'à travers lui-même, par ses idées représentatives. Ici, Ficin ne peut 
accéder à sa propre subjectivité qu'à partir de l'autre avec lequel il est en relation et dans 
lequel il dépose initialement son âme. Et, réciproquement, par la dédicace, il rend à 
Cavalcanti la vie de son âme. En somme, la subjectivité n'est pas du tout dissociée de 
l'altérité mise en oeuvre par le réseau des relations humaines. 

7. "Divino vero hec speties in omnibus amorem, hoc est, sui desiderium procreavit" (CfiP, 

8. "Circulus itaque unus et idem a deo in mundum, a mundo in deum, tribus nominibus 
nuncupatur. Prout in deo incipit et allicit, pulchritudo; prout in mundum transiens ipsum 
rapit, amor; prout in auctorem remeans ipsi suum opus coniungit, voluptas" {CBP, 146). 

9. "mens, anima, natura, materia" {CBP, 147). 

10. Ces deux opérations sont respectivement et successivement l'oeuvre des cinquième et 
sixième discours. 

11. Les hypostases ne relevant plus immédiatement d'un pur processus d'émanation, il 
devient possible de penser que l'ensemble de la hiérarchie universelle peut se modifier 
selon l'idée que l'homme en trouve en Dieu. Ce qui se dessine, chez Ficin, comme l'a 
fait remarquer Allen, c'est la différence entre les deux trinités, néoplatonicienne (Un, 
Intelligence, Âme) et chrétienne (Père, Fils, Esprit-Saint). Or, l'énigme d'une triade 
chrétienne cachée dans la triade néoplatonicienne aurait pour contexte "the prime hypo- 
stasis alone" et serait causale. Voir Michael J. B. Allen, "Marsilio Ficino on Plato, the 
Neoplatonists and the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity," Renaissance Quarterly, Zl 
(1984), p. 580. Voir aussi Charles H. Lohr, "Metaphysics," dans The Cambridge History 
of Renaissance Philosophy, sous la direction générale de Charles B. Schmidt (Cambridge, 
Cambridge University Press, 1988), 537-638. Cependant, Lohr, en partant de la même 
distinction entre les deux triades, les utilise en sens inverse d'Allen. Aussi, il nous permet 
d'apercevoir l'orientation sensible qui en découle et qui en exprime le dynamisme: 

74 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

"Ficino does not devaluate finite being as Neoplatonic metaphysics does." "God's 
relationship to things is not subject to the determinism imphed by emanation, but is 
contingent on his love of the world." C'est pourquoi, dans la Théologie platonicienne, 
l'âme, en se faisant raisonnable, devient aussi le centre de la hiérarchie universelle, autant 
par l'information intellectuelle de cette raison par Dieu, alors que l'âme raisonnable 
chemine vers Lui, que par la production hénologique de la qualité à travers laquelle elle 
anime le corps et y annonce son engagement ontologique envers celui-ci. En plus 
d'identifier l'Un et l'Intelligence, ccfntrairement à Plotin qui les distingue, Ficm remet 
donc aussi en question l'exclusion de la qualité hors du processus hénologique et le simple 
engagement de l'âme envers le corps par un reflet d'elle-même. 

12. Distinguons nettement l'inspiration chrétienne et sa manifestation hénologique à travers 
et par la médiation des trois Grâces, même s'il n'est pas possible de rendre compte de 
l'une sans la situer relativement à l'autre. L'inspiration chrétienne est procurée par la 
trinité chrétienne comme telle et est indiquée à la note précédente. Par contre, sa 
manifestation s'effectue à travers l'acte commençant par la Beauté et se poursuivant par 
l'Amour et le Plaisir pour constituer les trois Grâces (d'inspiration païenne). À travers 
celles-ci l'émanation néoplatonicienne est transformée et peut être effectivement centrée 
sur l'âme dans la Théologie platonicienne, par la production hénologique de la qualité 
complétant la différenciation initiale de l'acte divin, qu'est la Beauté, en quatre cercles. 
En somme, la trinité chrétienne n'existe qu'en l'Un, la vie en découle, tout en étant tirée 
de l'amour se trouvant au coeur des trois Grâces, et le processus hénologique s'y trouve 
entièrement centré sur l'âme ainsi définie par sa vie, autant par la remontée intellectuelle 
de l'âme se hvrant à son raisonnement pour atteindre la cause essentiellement divine de 
l'acte présidant à son existence, que par l'instauration de la qualité annonçant l'engage- 
ment ontologique de l'âme envers le corps et répondant, entre l'âme et le monde, à la 
position intermédiaire que l'intelligibilité angélique est supposée occuper entre Dieu et 
l'âme. D'où, à travers la traction de l'intelligible vers l'intelligence divine l'ordonnant et 
de la qualité vers le corps, la mise en évidence métaphysique de Dieu, de l'Âme et du 
Corps et, à travers la réponse du sensible à l'intelligible, une quête de la vie étemelle dans 
la vie présente. Cette métaphysique produit donc un nouveau traitement épistémologique 

13. "Huiusmodi radius omnes rerum omnium speties in quatuor ilhs effingit. Speties illas in 
mente ideas, in anima rationes, in natura semina, in materia formas apellare solemus" 
{CBP, 149). 

14. "Eadem vero inter quatuor hec et eorum formas est comparatio" {CBP, 233). 

15. "Deus numquam ita decipitur ut sue spetiei umbram in angelo amet quidem, propriam sui 
ac veram negligat pulchritudinem. Nequie angélus usque adeo capitur anime spetie, que 
ipsius est veram negligat pulchritudinem. Nequie angélus usque adeo capitur anime 
spetie, que ipsius est umbra, ut sui umbra détendus, figuram propriam deserat" (CBP, 
234). Dans la Théologie platonicienne, ce rapport différencié entre les ombres se transpose 
en un rapport lumineux différencié, par lequel le niveau supérieur se réfléchit dans le 
miroir que constitue le niveau inférieur émanant de lui. En effet, le rapport de l'artisan au 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 75 

miroir est double: produit de ses mains, il est aussi le support individué du reflet qu'il 
trouve de lui-même en cette oeuvre. Alors, le Beau fait non seulement place à l'Amour, 
mais Ficin tente aussi de personnaliser cet Amour en s' inspirant d'Augustin, de telle sorte 
que l'âme s'unit à Dieu, dont elle tient sa vie et qui capte le reflet qu'il se donne 
intellectuellement à lui-même par elle. À l'échelle de l'univers. Dieu est comme un soleil 
invisible s'individuant dans un soleil visible qui, en retour, lui donne le reflet de lui-même. 
Cependant, ce soleil invisible ne s'y reflète intellectuellement que parce qu'il s'y mani- 
feste volontairement comme en une oeuvre l'individuant par la vie qu'il lui communique. 
L'Un néoplatonicien se voit alors transformé par cette vie inhérente à l'Un ficinien. 

16. "vera substanUae ipsius unione coniungit" (TP, T. 2, L. 12, 165). 

17. "in hac vita humanus amor in Deum humanae praestat cognitioni, quia Deum nemo vere 
cognoscit, vere autem amant illi Deum quoquomodo cognitum, qui spemunt omnia 
propter ipsum" (TP, T. 2, L. 14, 291). 

1 8. " 'nosce te ipsum' id potissimum admonere, ut quicumque Deum optât agnoscere, seipsum 
ante cognoscat" (TP, T. 1, L. 1, 35-36). De fait, l'âme est intelligente et non pas 
intelligible. C'est ce qui marque sa différence par rapport à l'ange et la relie à la cause 
plutôt qu'à la forme (Voir TP, T. 2, L. 10, 113). 

19. "Quae tanto est a falso alienior quam caeter hominum studia, quanto propinquius Deo 
summae veritati nos copulat" (TP, T. 2, L. 12, 292). 

20. Ernst Cassirer, Individu et cosmos dans la philosophie de la Renaissance, trad. Pierre 
Quillet (Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1983), p. 168. 

21. Emile Bréhier, Histoire de la philosophie, 4ème édition, vol. 1 (Paris, Presses Universi- 
taires de France, 1987), p. 670. 

22. "Et quisquis hoc in tempore sese deo caritate devoverit, se denique recuperabit in Deo. 
Nempe ad suam, per quam creatus est, redibit ideam" (CBP, 239). 

23. Voir Michael J. B. Allen, "The Absent Angel in Ficino's Philosophy," Journal of the 
History of Ideas, 36 (1975), pp. 219-220. Cependant, il ne faudrait pas oublier que 
Kristeller (Op. cit., 168) a ouvert la voie en mettant en évidence l'identification que le 
Dieu ficinien opère entre l'Un plotinien et l'intelligence plotinienne. Or, cette identifica- 
tion n'a de sens que par son contexte et que si on tient compte de ses conditions de 
possibilité; le don de vie caractérisant cette pensée (ou intelligence), alors distinguée 
d'une pensée pure, et le dynamisme que cette vie insuffle à l' idée d' ordre, celle-ci pouvant 
alors non seulement rendre compte de la hiérarchie universelle, mais s'y produire en 
véhiculant l'idée de la cause engendrant cet univers et son ordre. En effet, même si 
l'intelligence, comme connaissance de l'ordre de l'univers, vaut mieux que cet ordre, la 
valeur de cette intelligence se détermine par sa relation à ce à quoi elle s'adresse, à savoir 
l'intelligible, en particulier l'idée d'ordre mise en oeuvre par la hiérarchie universelle. 

24. CBP, 170. Dans la Théologie platonicienne, l'homme sera aussi la raison, cette raison 
n'existant que vivante et que dans un vivant. La vie produite par l'Un, dans le Commen- 

76 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

taire sur le Banquet de Platon, est alors explicitement intégrée à l'âme, alors qu'elle se 
rapporte à elle-même par sa raison. La conception théologique de l'homme conduit donc 
à une conception métaphysique et épistémologique de l'humain. 

25. "verus autem homo et idea hominis idem" {CBP, 239). 

26. "Cupido generationis in pulchro, ad servandam vitam mortalibus in rebus perpetuam" 
(CBP, 224). 

27. Lohr, Art. cit., p. 571. 

28. Dans la troisième méditation, Descartes se démarquera de cette position en formant toutes 
ses idées, outre celle qu'il a de lui-même, par le mélange de ses idées de Dieu et du corps. 
Ici, Ficin, comme homme, prend place entre Dieu et le monde, au lieu de les garder à 
distance et d'en mélanger les idées en lui-même. La raison fondamentale de cette 
différence réside dans le fait que Ficin choisit l'amour et non la connaissance, afin d'unir 
l'intelligence à Dieu au lieu de l'en séparer. Ainsi, l'âme cherche à devenir divine en 
s'unissant à Dieu par l'amour, au lieu de chercher Dieu en se purifiant comme âme par 
la connaissance. Or, si l'amour de Dieu ne comporte pas de mauvais usage de l'intelli- 
gence, contrairement à la connaissance de Dieu (TP, T. 2, L. 14, 291), il n'incite pas non 
plus Ficin à faire du questionnement sur l'usage de l'inteUigence un élément central de 
sa problématique. Cependant, Ficin s'interrogera tout de même de façon plus spécifique 
sur l'intelligence dans Quaestiones quinque de mente. 

29. "Vita et intelligens discurrendo, et corpus vivificans tempore" {TP, T. 1, L. 3, 142). 

30. "Unitatem vocato principium, Veritatem principii rationem, Bonitatem denique principii 
rationalis amorem" {TP, T. 1, L. 2, 82). 

31. Kristeller, Op. ci/., p. 168. 

32. Ficin est explicite: "animus non ex eo quod Deum considérât, sed ex eo quod amat, fit 
divinus" {TP, T. 2, L. 14, 291). 

33. Allen oublie cette médiation de l'idée de l'ordre lorsqu'il parle de la dissolution de l'ange 
et de son devenir conmie idée de l'intelligence divine. Voir. Allen, Art. cit., 1975, p. 229. 

34. Voir /few/., pp. 219-220. 

35. Dominique Dubarle et André Doz, Logique et dialectique (Paris, Larousse, 1972), p. 35. 

36. Ibid. 

37. Ceci ne veut pas dire que Ficin est moderne, mais qu'il y a des éléments modernes chez 
lui, dans la mesure où la modemité, définie par l'établissement du rapport que l'homme 
entretient avec lui-même, s'esquisse initialement par un rapport entre l'âme et la raison. 
D'où la possibilité d'une comparaison entre les oeuvres métaphysiques de Ficin et de 
Descartes. De même, l'esprit est alors pris par une tension entre la vie et la pensée, non 
plus en alternance historique entre différents auteurs, comme Bemard Groethuysen l'a 
fait voir en arrêtant à l'époque renaissante son Anthropologie philosophique (Paris, 
Gallimard, 1980 [1954]). Cette tension apparaît chez chaque auteur: Ficin, puis Descartes, 

Yvan Morin / Christianisme, métaphysique et épistémologie chez Marsile Ficin / 77 

dont le doute ne s'inaugure que par rapport à sa vie, en particuHer aux enseignements 
qu'il a reçus pendant son enfance. En ce sens, on pourrait y apercevoir un premier pas 
vers le remplacement du rapport métaphysique entre le corps et l'âme par le rapport, chez 
Kant, entre la matière et l'esprit. 

Book Reviews 
Comptes rendus 

Ernest Sullivan II. The Influence of John Donne: His Uncollected Seven- 
teenth Century Printed Verse. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 

Anthony Raspa, ed. John Donne: Pseudo-Martyr, Montreal: McGill- 
Queen's University Press, 1993. 

The two books under review provide invaluable materials for both the Donne 
scholar and the student of seventeenth century intellectual history. In The Influence 
of John Donne, Ernest Sullivan does precisely what his title and subtitle promise. 
He offers a comprehensive and meticulously described bibliography of all printed 
instances of Donne's poetry throughout the seventeenth century (including transla- 
tions and adaptations) in publications other than the seven editions and issues of the 
collected Poems published between 1633 and 1669. And he provides an extensive 
discussion of the significance of the texts he has assembled and in considerable 
measure discovered. He identifies the range and extent of Donne's readership and 
influence, and offers suggestive speculation on reading practices and the uses of 
poetry throughout the century. 

Sullivan has located and analyzed a very large number of uncollected printings 
of Donne's verse, demonstrating that 38 of his poems were introduced in this fashion 
to a print audience (an audience quite different from the coterie audience amongst 
whom his poetry originally circulated in manuscript). Further, he has substantially 
increased the identification of uncollected titles (83 in place of 46) and editions (239 
from 65). His findings effectively refute two generally accepted notions concerning 
Donne's reputation — that few of his poems saw print in his lifetime and that what 
popularity he did have had diminished rapidly by the Restoration. From Thomas 
Dekker's A Knight's Conjuring (1601), where two lines of "The Storme" are quoted, 
to Mary de la Rivière Manley ' s Letters ( 1 696) where a line from "The Will" appears, 
Donne, Sullivan argues, was a continuous presence through the century. 

He is able both to name 59 known readers of Donne's poetry (largely but not 
exclusively other writers) and to identify an entirely new and unsuspected reader- 

80 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

ship (described as "functionally illiterate" although the term is never adequately 
defined). In texts such as The Philosophers Banquet, or The Academy of Compte- 
mentSy or The Marrow of Complements, handbooks and manuals including advice 
on topics and styles of conversation and letter writing, Donne regularly turns up 
with illustrative lines or model sentiments or phrasing. He also appears, frequently 
unacknowledged, in the work of other writers. Sullivan sketches this material in 
fascinating detail. What is missing from this discussion, however, is a full consid- 
eration of the relation of a Donne text to its place of publication. He remarks that 
overall the selections constitute a list not unlike one a twentieth-century reader 
might put together, but he does not account for frequency of citation. The Anniver- 
saries, for example, appear often. What principles of taste or understanding might 
have been operative? Nonetheless, the argument is entirely original, and constitutes 
an important intervention in the cultural history of the period. 

Finally from the bibliographic point of view, the work is extremely valuable 
as an aid in dating and establishing Donne's texts, insofar as a citation can offer a 
terminus ad quern as well as a source of variant readings. The main body of the book 
consists of chonologically arranged descriptive bibliographies of all works contain- 
ing some Donne verse (whole or in part), followed by sections describing works 
containing translations, adaptations and dubia. There is a chronology of printings 
and two indexes. 

Anthony Raspa*s edition of Donne's Pseudo-Martyr (1610) offers a richly 
detailed historical and theological context for a difficult text, hitherto only available 
in a 1974 facsimile edition. The organizing insight of his informative introduction 
to this treatise whose rhetorical purpose was to convince English Catholics to take 
the Oath of Allegiance, is the epigrammatic statement, "Donne writes as a canonist 
in order not to be a canonist." Raspa shows how Donne defends his argumentss in 
terms of Catholic canon law but shifts the grounds to "The Protestant 'dictate of 
conscience' and its associated law of nature" (p. xxxi). Tliis point is developed in 
terms of Donne's complex personal religious history as the great-great-nephew of 
Thomas More and as the nephew of the Jesuits Elias and Jasper Hey wood, who by 
this period was not only a convert, but a propagandist and apologist for the English 
Church {Ignatius his Conclave was published the following year). But the personal 
forms only a small part of the multiple contexts adduced. These touch on contem- 
porary debates over martyrdom; the relation between secular and spiritual powers, 
seen through Paul V's excommunication of the Doge of Venice in 1606, as well as 
in two earlier controversies between the papacy and secular rulers; the events 
surrounding the Gunpowder plot and hence the passing of the Oath of Allegiance; 
James' defence of the Oath (Triplici Nodo) as well as Catholic rebuttals (Robert 
Parsons, 1608); Donne's legal training, and more. 

Raspa argues that throughout the text Donne is trying to convince himself that 
his religious convictions are settled, hence Donne's emphasis on the continuity of 
Christian history. From this perspective, Pseudo-Martyr advances a complex legal 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 81 

case, arguing simultaneously on behalf of James and of his English-Catholic 
subjects. Thus "secular and spiritual powers could be legitimately united in the 
ruler. . . [but he] separated for his subjects to the benefit of both" (p. xlix). 

All of these arguments are developed in the "Introduction" and supported in 
great detailn in the extensive "Commentary" that follows the text. The notes identify 
and explain the marginalia as well as many of the references in the text. The textual 
apparatus also includes useful information concerning the extant copies of the 1610 
edition (many more than the STC lists). There is also an illuminating discussion of 
the roles of Stansby and Burre (printer and bookseller for Pseudo- Martyr) in the 
field of religious controversy. 

Given the clearly painstaking research that went into preparing this edition, 
and its obvious value for students of Donne and of Renaissance religious history, it 
is perhaps churlish of me to raise objections, but I do have a few demurrals both 
small and not so small. A small one concerns the inference that Donne had no 
Hebrew in his repertoire of languages, a traditional position that has been largely 
discredited. More serious, though, is the lack of an adequate context for Pseudo- 
Martyr in Donne's writing overall — its relation to the Satires, for example, 
especially "Satire III"; to the prose letters; to the flurry of publication in the years 
1610 to 1612. Further, there has been considerable recent scholarship on Donne as 
casuist, recusant, polemicist, but very little of this (or any other Donne scholarship) 
appears in these pages. Why did Donne write this tract? The question is only very 
obliquely addressed. 

My greatest hesitation, however, concerns the text itself. I do not understand 
the logic behind the decision to correct some punctuation, capitalization and 
typography silently. Either the text is an accurate transcription or it is not. There 
are as well certain apparent errors that these principles of emendation do not account 
for. I did a spot check on the opening pages against the microfilm of the Huntingdon 
Library copy and found to my dismay a number of inexplicable errors. On the title 
page Pseudo-Martyr is missing its hyphen, and a comma follows instead of a period. 
The page offers itself as if it were a diplomatic transcription of the original, but the 
line breaks of the biblical texts are not followed. In the Table of Contents there are 
several small errors (Chap. VI: "wherein" for "wherin"; Chap. X: "cited by those 
authors" for "cyted by those authours"; p. 9, 1. 17: omission of a bracket before 
"since." None of these is serious in the sense of Donne's 1629 sermon on the text 
"Nothing is to be neglected as little," where he points out the heretical implications 
of the accidental addition of an "i" (homoiousion instead of homoousion). But are 
there other errors? A text of this sort should have (nearly) none. Still I do admire 
the great learning displayed everywhere in this volume, only wishing that it had 
acknowledged the work of others beside Carey and Bald. 

JUDITH SCHERER HERZ, Concordia University 

82 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Richard Mulcaster. Positions Concerning the Training Up of Children, 
edited by William Barker. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 
1994. Pp. Ixxxvi, 521. 

Richard Mulcaster has not lacked admirers. Best known for his defence of public 
education in Positions (1581), he has been called "the greatest Elizabethan school- 
master," "the Father of English Pedagogy," and a "pivotal figure in the history of 
Anglo-American education." Despite several reprints and abridgements, however, 
he has lacked an authoritative modern edition. William Barker's splendid edition 
admirably fills this lack. 

Barker's introduction includes a summary of Mulcaster' s most important ideas 
that places them in historical context, an essay on his style, a short biography, and 
a bibliographic essay. The text itself is a "lightly modified old-spelling edition" (p. 
Ixxxiii) reflecting a thorough examination of the textual evidence. Following the 
text are a list of textual notes and variants, a lengthy commentary, bibliographies 
of Mulcaster' s writings and of the works cited in Barker's introduction and com- 
mentary, and a very full index. In all, the apparatus slightly outweighs the text. 

In his introduction, Barker argues that Mulcaster' s most significant position is 
that "uniformity and the pre-eminence of the state lie at the heart of any educational 
theory" (p. xv). A staunch monarchist, Mulcaster saw all learning as serving the 
public good, and argued that gentlemen should receive essentially the same state- 
authorized education as commoners. Barker offers no new insights into the "great 
shift in schooling" (p. xxix) in which Mulcaster participates, but summarizes 
Mulcaster' s relation to it. Barker also contextualizes a number of significant 
features of Positions, including Mulcaster' s relative avoidance in it of religion, his 
Aristotelian conception of the relation of body and soul, his (limited) defence of 
women's education, and his championing of the teaching profession. 

The greatest contribution of Barker's introduction, however, is his discussion 
of Mulcaster's lengthy consideration of physical education. These chapters, which 
comprise fully one- quarter of Positions and which are omitted from Richard 
DeMolen's 1971 edition, may be the part of the book holding the most interest 
today. Following his earliest article. Barker resurrects Mulcaster's use of Girolamo 
Mercuriale' s De arte gymnastica, an influence discovered by George Schmid in 
1892 and apparently forgotten. Barker's rediscovery should invite further study of 
this curious expression of early modem attitudes towards the body. 

One of Barker's chief aims is to rehabilitate Mulcaster's reputation as a 
rhetorician and stylist. He argues that Mulcaster's intention in writing Positions is 
to use the techniques of deliberative rhetoric to gain his audience's support for his 
solutions to educational problems. He also helpfully explains the tension between 
persuasion and badgering in the work as a product of Mulcaster's attempt to write 
for a mixed audience, one including the court, educational specialists, the generally 
learned, and the unlearned. Barker's study demonstrates that Mulcaster was a 
painfully self-conscious stylist, but falls short of establishing that he was a good 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 83 

one. Barker never confronts an apparent contradiction between the difficulty that 
he, Mulcaster, and many other readers acknowledge in Mulcaster's style, and the 
playfulness that Barker wishes to claim for it. Instead, he implies that there is no 
contradiction, claiming that the "overall effect" of Mulcaster's style "is one of 
relentless playfulness, strenuousness, and willed energy" (p. liv). Perhaps, play can 
be hard, after all. But play and deliberateness are also a potentially unstable blend, 
and I would like to see a stronger argument that Mulcaster overcomes this potential. 
Barker goes on to locte Mulcaster's rhythmic, highly figured, and elaborately 
balanced periods in a late sixteenth-century flowering of Ciceronianism that in- 
cluded Roger Ascham, Richard Rainolds, Gabriel Harvey, and John Lyly. Aside 
from a suggestion that such rhetorical display is appropriate to a counsellor of state, 
however. Barker does not probe the significance of this movement or justify his 
claim that Mulcaster's "stylistic method expresses a politics of education" (p. vii). 
(G. K. Hunter's John Lyly: The Humanist as Courtier might have been a good 
starting point here). Indeed, Barker's very different argument that "in his rhetoric 
[Mulcaster] shows himself to be a moralist, not a politician" [p. xlviii]) seems much 
more convincing. Still, Barker's thorough and informed study of the rhetoric of 
Positions should accomplish his goal of establishing Mulcaster's work as a serious 
object of rhetorical study. 

Barker is at his encyclopedic best in the commentary. Many of his annotations 
gloss unusual vocabulary, and several offer corrections to the OED. Many others 
are miniature essays identifying sources, pointing out stylistic devices, and eluci- 
dating key concepts. Barker's commentary on Mulcaster's use of the word 
"méthode" may serve as an example. He begins by citing Thomas Wilson's 
definition of method in The Rule of Reason (pp. 311-312). He then sketches the 
word's polyvalence, noting both that it may denote "a highly complex area of 
philosophy, concerned with problems of language and epistemology," and that for 
some during the Renaissance it "became synonymous with 'simplification'" [. . .] 
"and in an age of popular instruction a philosophically respectable theory of 
simplification was bound to be quickly embraced and used to its fullest advantage." 
He next gives examples of schematically structured manuals of learning, before 
referring to the scholarly works of Neal Gilbert, Wilbur S. Howell, and Walter Ong. 
He notes that Thomas Nashe associated Mulcaster with Peter Ramus, although 
Mulcaster is not notably a Ramist (in the introduction Barker concedes that 
Mulcaster's section on sports uses "a branching method to set out its argument" [p. 
xxxv]). Finally, Barker explains that Mulcaster's idea of method is primarily 
rhetorical, relying on persuasive arguments to support his "positions." The range of 
learning displayed in the commentary is truly impressive, but, as I hope this example 
shows, it is Barker's ability to distill the essence of often complex scholarly 
traditions and debates into brief explanations that distinguishes this commentary, 
giving it a value that far surpasses its immediate purpose. 

84 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

In his thirty-seventh chapter, Mulcaster considers "the meanes to restraine the 
overflowing multitude of scholers" (p. 145). In a time of too few positions for too many 
scholars, and of too many books for too few library dollars, his remarks should be noted 
by those who control graduate school admissions and library acquisitions. However, 
William Barker and his edition of Positions — clearly a labour of love — deserve to 
be part of the flood. Though at $80 (the University of Toronto Press charges the same 
in Canadian and American dollars!) it will strain more than a few budgets, this is a 
significant work of scholarship that merits inclusion in every university hbrary. 

KENNETH J. E. GRAHAM, New Mexico State University 

Daniel Martin, ed. Montaigne and the Gods: The Mythological Key to the 
"Essays. " Amherst, MA: Hestia Press, 1993. Pp. 279. 

Daniel Martin's Montaigne and the Gods represents the proceedings of an interna- 
tional colloquium held in Amherst, Massachusetts, to commemorate the 400th 
anniversary of Montaigne's death in 1592. Readers of Martin's earlier work will 
not be surprised to learn that the essays in this collection continue to develop his 
earlier theory that Montaigne arranged his chapters in a particular order, for specific 
reasons. In this volume, the contributors strive to support Martin's view that the 
order is largely determined by the affiliation of groups of essays with Greco-Roman 
divinities, so that, for example, I, 26, "De l'institution des enfans," is associated 
with Diana, as one of seven chapters, I, 26 to I, 32, dedicated to that deity. Thus this 
book, like all Martin's earlier work, runs radically counter to the main stream of 
traditional Montaigne studies, exemplified by Pierre Villey and later by Donald 
Frame, which sought to date the essays chronologically, and to explain their subject 
matter by speculation as to what Montaigne was reading at the time that he 
composed each one. In this earlier view, the philosophical stages, "Stoic," 
"Sceptic," and "Epicurean," were suggested to explain the supposed "evolution" in 
Montaigne's thought. Martin, on the contrary, believes that Montaigne planned the 
order of the essays from the outset, filing chapters under particular gods, by subject, 
theme or motif. Thus he sees a visual organization to the book, similar to the 
frequently cited "memory theater" which has been explicated by Frances Yates; or 
to a gallery of paintings, arranged in a particular order, which only becomes 
apparent when seen as a whole. 

The studies in the collection vary in length and methodology, but all attempt 
to elucidate Martin's theory about the order of the Essais, with varying degrees of 
success. The book is structured around a series of deities: Ceres, Mercury, Venus, 
Bacchus, Minerva, Diana and Apollo. These are not the only gods found in 
Montaigne's work, according to the editor, but they are the ones selected for 
treatment by the participants in the conference. The most successful essays in the 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 85 

collection do use the mnemonic system, but then try to go beyond it to say something 
more about Montaigne, mythology, Renaissance preoccupations, etc. 

Tilde Sankovitch's essay on Ceres in I: 6-10, for example, focuses on the 
mother-daughter relationship in these chapters, and establishes a parallel between 
Ceres' search for her daughter and Montaigne's search for himself. Under the sign of 
Mercury (I: 11-15), Peter Sokolowski's short essay argues persuasively for 
Montaigne's preoccupation with a balance between public and private life, as a 
characteristic of the god of the threshold. In the section on Venus, Sue Farquhar's soHd 
essay on chapters 1: 21-25 probes the relationship between Venus and trade/commerce 
in the Renaissance. While not using the mythological scheme, Randolph Runyan's 
essay finds astonishing parallels between I: 21-25 and I: 33-37, mainly of a styUstic 
nature, which support the idea that there are paired chapters in the Essais. 

Several chapters of the book address the presence of Bacchus in the Essais. 
Robert Henkel's essay is noteworthy for its honesty in admitting the problems we 
encounter in trying to attribute specific characteristics to the Greek gods, and for 
his excellent conclusion which tries to suggest the larger significance of this kind 
of study (focusing attention on the "minor" essays, for example), as many of the 
authors in the volume do not do. William Engel's essay on Bacchus in II: 33-37 is, 
likewise, one of the best in the collection, as is Elizabeth Caron's, which works 
more closely with the text than some. 

Rounding out the volume is an interesting essay on Pallas Athena in I: 38-42, 
by Mary Rowan; and several on the presence of Diana, particularly Marc- André 
Wiesmann's ingenious study of I: 26. Finally, the collection ends with John 
Northnagle's contribution on "Apollo the Anchor" (I: 53-57), which adds a note of 
scepticism on the question of whether or not Montaigne actually believed in the 
gods, but which concludes that for Montaigne, Apollo was useful as an anchor, in 
several senses of the word. 

There are numerous illustrations throughout the book, added by the editor, largely 
of sixteenth-century engravings representing the gods. This emphasis on the visual is 
one of the positive contributions of the volume. Certainly these essays are imaginative, 
and suggest aspects of the Essais which may have been overlooked in the past. 

On the other hand, some of the chapters in the collection are overly schematic, and 
come close to sophistry in their attempts to make the theory "fit" in essays where the 
relevance of a particular god is indeed hard to see. Still, sceptics need to read the volume 
before dismissing the theory completely, since many of its essays are quite persuasive. 

Montaigne and the Gods is obviously a testimonial to the respect and gratitude 
which a group of scholars feel toward Professor Martin, who has made a major 
contribution to Montaigne studies in North America, though his conferences, 
publications, and especially through the founding in 1988 of the journal Montaigne 
Studies (now edited by Philippe Desan at the University of Chicago), which 
continue to publish strong scholarship on the essayist, regardless of the approach. 

CATHLEEN M. BAUSCHATZ, University of Maine 

86 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

André Turcat. Etienne Jamet alias Esteban Jamete, sculpteur français de la 
Renaissance en Espagne condamné par l'Inquisition. Paris, Picard, 1994. 
Pp. 388, illustrations. 

Etienne Jamet fait partie de ces sculpteurs français de la Renaissance qui ont fait 
toute leur carrière en Espagne sans laisser aucune trace en France. On dispose sur 
lui d'une documentation exceptionnellement riche du fait qu'il fut en 1557 soumis 
à une enquête de l'Inquisition. On sait ainsi qu'il était né à Orléans vers 1516, qu'il 
était arrivé en Espagne dès 1535, et on connaît toutes les étapes de sa carrière avec 
les principaux ouvrages qu'il effectua jusqu'en 1557. Il fut d'abord très mobile, 
taillant de simples médaillons dans des cours de palais comme à Medina del Campo 
et Valladolid (1535) ou Leôn (1537); il s'arrêta plus longuement à Tolède entre 
1537 et 1539 pour travailler à la cathédrale et en particulier partager avec Vigarny 
Texécution des stalles du choeur, puis passa un an à Chinchilla sur le chantier du 
chevet de l'église Santa Maria (1540); il descendit ensuite à Ubeda, où il put 
s'illustrer dans des ouvrages majeurs, les portails et la sacristie de l'église du 
Salvador (1541-1543), puis il poussa jusqu'à Seville, où il participa au décor de 
V Ayuntamiento (1544); en 1545, le hasard d'une commande l'appela dans la 
médiocre ville de Cuenca, où d'autres conmiandes allaient le retenir pendant 12 ans, 
puis sa condamnation par l'Inquisition le fixer définitivement; il y exécuta notam- 
ment dans la cathédrale un portail intérieur auquel son nom est resté associé, Varco 
de Jamete. Il mourut à Cuenca le 5 août 1565, mais ses dernières années à partir de 
sa condamnation nous sont beaucoup moins bien connues; il semble d'ailleurs 
qu'elles aient été moins productives, l'artiste restant sans doute marqué par 
l'épreuve morale et la torture physique. 

L'essentiel des pièces du procès avait été publié en Espagne dès 1933, mais le 
sculpteur n'en avait pas reçu plus d'attention pour autant des historiens de l'art. 
André Turcat a eu la bonne idée de repartir de ce document essentiel pour lui 
consacrer une véritable monographie. Suivant donc les indications fournies par 
Jamet lui-même, il est allé chercher dans toutes les villes où il s'était arrêté les 
documents qui confirment et précisent ses dires, et les ouvrages qui peuvent y 
correspondre. La moisson a été copieuse, et Turcat nous offre donc dans une 
première partie proprement historique la reconstitution de l'activité de l'artiste, 
dans la seconde l'étude de son art. Il y joint une riche illustration, entièrement 
originale, qui est généralement bonne en dépit d'un format trop réduit, et qui de 
toute façon est infiniment précieuse, vu la pauvreté générale des publications dans 
ce domaine. Il fournit enfin un gros appendice documentaire (pp. 324-383), qui 
nous donne entre autres la traduction de dix marchés concernant l'artiste à Cuenca 
et de l'essentiel du procès de 1557. Disons tout de suite que là réside la seule 
véritable faiblesse de cet ouvrage. Je ne doute pas de l'excellence des traductions 
de l'auteur, ni des services qu'elles rendront à tous ceux qui comme moi ne 
maîtrisent pas l'espagnol de la Renaissance, mais des documents si précieux 
demandaient à être à la fois édités dans la langue originale et traduits ensuite. Ainsi 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 87 

les chercheurs auraient pu à la fois contrôler l'exactitude des traductions (on le 
souhaiterait particulièrement lorsque l'auteur lui-même nous fait part de sa per- 
plexité) et se référer directement aux originaux pour y puiser les citations utiles. 

On a déjà compris que l'absence des originaux constitue une faiblesse juste- 
ment parce que le livre est un ouvrage important et sérieux, qui traite d'un artiste 
notable, mais injustement négligé jusqu'à présent et qui apporte maint renseigne- 
ment précieux sur les monuments concernés, sur la sculpture en Espagne dans le 
deuxième tiers du siècle ou encore sur la mentalité d'un artiste de ce niveau et sur 
le milieu dans lequel il vivait à Cuenca. L'étude historique est méthodique, pru- 
dente, et me paraît tout à fait fiable. C'est la partie consacrée à "l'art de Jamet" qui 
peut susciter parfois des questions ou des réserves. D'abord, elle traite plus d'ico- 
nographie que de style. L'auteur s'est donné beaucoup de peine pour chercher un 
sujet et un sens à toutes les figures ou même aux frises décoratives, sans pouvoir 
toujours trouver une solution ou emporter la conviction. Je ne suis pas certain que 
dans le domaine de la sculpture décorative la recherche soit toujours justifiée. Les 
résultats en tout cas sont inégaux. Autant il me paraît louable d'identifier un relief 
à l'entrée de la sacristie d'Ubeda comme une représentation de la Vision d'Auguste 
à l'Ara Coeli, autant il me semble arbitraire de voir dans un buste en médaillon très 
générique (fig. 127) un portrait de Francisco de los Cobos et d'en conclure que son 
pendant doit être celui de son épouse. 

D'autre part, la définition du style personnel de Jamet et l'identification de ses 
sources restent encore des problèmes. L'auteur a fait une découverte précieuse en 
identifiant certaines plaquettes de Moderno comme les modèles de reliefs des 
Travaux d'Hercule à la façade d'Ubeda. Je ne peux donc le suivre lorsqu'il y perçoit 
une influence de Michel- Ange qu'il suppose transmise par Manchuca. C'est bien 
le style de Moderno qui s'affirme ici, et le recours à de tels modèles n'a rien de 
surprenant pour un homme issu de la vallée de la Loire. Je suis frappé en revanche 
par le caractère michelangelesque des figures d'apôtres ciselées sur l'orfroi de la 
chape de l'évêque de Calahorra (fig. 59-64) — poses en torsion, drapés souples, 
bras musculeux — où l'auteur penche à voir une influence des Juste. Lui-même 
pourtant reconnaît sur toute l'oeuvre une influence diffuse de Michel- Ange qui 
oblige à classer le sculpteur parmi les maniéristes. On aimerait comprendre par 
quels cheminements elle a pu s'exercer. Malheureusement un certain nombre de 
statues — saint Pierre, saint Paul (fig. 225-226), Ecce homo (fig. 272) — ou de 
grandes figures de relief — groupes d'Annonciation ou d'Adoration — ne sont 
guère analysées du fait probablement que leur situation en rend l'appréciation et la 
photographie peu commodes. L'artiste reste donc difficile à situer entre la France, 
l'Italie et l'Espagne. Il y a incontestablement un aspect très français dans son style, 
mais il y a aussi de forts accents de maniérisme italien qui s'y mêlent. Faut-il 
supposer un voyage de Jamet en Italie, ou croire à l'influence d'ouvrages ou 
d'artistes italiens qu'il aurait connus en Espagne même? Cette seconde hypothèse 

88 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

serait à creuser, en gardant à l'esprit que les modèles italiens de l'Espagne venaient 
essentiellement de Naples ou de Gênes. 

Il serait malséant de reprocher à André Turcat de n'avoir pu apporter une 
réponse définitive à des problèmes aussi complexes. Il était assurément trop tôt pour 
le tenter. Mais par la riche documentation qu'il apporte, son ouvrage permet 
désormais de les poser, et il restera indispensable pour quiconque voudra tenter de 
les résoudre. 


Linda Woodbridge. The Scythe of Saturn: Shakespeare and Magical Think- 
ing. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Pp. vi, 390. 

In 1984 — an age ago — Philip K. Bock's Shakespeare and Elizabethan Culture: 
An Anthropological View applied anthropological methods to the texts, cautioning 
that selection of facts and levels of abstraction can distort history, and warning us 
to recognize our antagonisms to Renaissance sensibility. Woodbridge cites anthro- 
pological observations from numerous cultures to place together a cultural backdrop 
against which Shakespeare will not be "our contemporary." Whereas Bock, and 
Kirby Farrell in his 1975 Shakespeare's Creation — both are glancingly cited by 
Woodbridge — , approve the magic of Shakespeare's creativity, Woodbridge, 
denying that he could transcend his cultural limitations, situates Shakespeare in 
"magical thinking," produced when Renaissance rationalism drove medieval mag- 
ical structures into the unconscious (p. 5). For Bock and Farrell the art "which stirs 
us to wonder" (Farrell, p. 4) is not diminished by Shakespeare's use of "magical 
thinking." Woodbridge separates this concept from "conscious magical belief (p. 
12) by invoking Freud and followers. Nothing is said of the aristocratic and learned 
magicians with whom Shakespeare probably was acquainted. Were they all too 
conscious? Woodbridge describes "magical thinking" as "like a concrete wall that 
remains standing after the forms into which it has been poured — true magical belief 
— have been knocked away" (p. 13); as "steel girders holding up the very edifice 
of [Shakespeare's] plays" (p. 20); "mental girders that structured the mind of the 
age" (p. 82), and so on. 

A chapter canvassing theoretical positions to be subsequently deployed seems 
designed to display eclectic even-handedness, sharing Foucault' s wariness of 
"totalitarian theories" (p. 41). The concept of steady progress toward rational 
modernity — Whig history — seems to be balanced by a theory of historical 
oscillation (p. 36). But this merely holds us "in false gaze," for the book's slant is 
contemporary cultural-moralism: moderns rout ancients. Sir James Fraser {The 
Golden Bough) is the most notable scapegoat. Guilty of "butterfly collecting" 
methods (p. 18), he is also condescending (p. 94), dubious (pp. 133, 153) and 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 89 

embarrassingly ethnocentric (p. 14); an elderly authority lacking solid theory (p. 
91), and a contributor to "colonial paternalism" (p. 14). 

Woodbridge proposes to "tease out" (passim) deep, unconscious mental 
structures, and enunciate their principles. Striking insights achieved when 
Woodbridge closely reads Shakespeare contrast with passages which wonder at 
the art of the deep theorists. One instance may serve for many: "A binary image 
of Rome, almost Levi-Straussian in its precise mirror inversion, haunted the 
European imagination for a thousand years" (p. 48). Often the theorists are 
centre-stage, while Shakespeare, off-stage, writes as well as he can validating 
them. The patchwork of cultural studies' sources frequently produces only porten- 
tous or banal pronouncements. There is a triumphant tone, for example, when a 
linguist's findings are said to "dovetail" with anthropological theory: our bodies 
"are three-dimensional containers into which we put certain things (food, water, 
air) and out of which other things emerge (food and water wastes, air, blood, etc.)" 
(p. 47). 

Representations of the body are "perhaps the most prominent strain in 
recent literary study" (p. 17). A significant portion of The Scythe of Saturn 
treats body/society analogies as sites of much submerged magical thinking. 
Thus Shakespeare's England is concerned with preventing penetration and 
pollution of its body. As the nation is a body, so it follows that it also has a 
psyche — mostly dysfunctional. Obsession is ubiquitous in Shakespeare's 
mentality: obsessed with "sexually besieged wives" (p. 71), with "endangered 
chastity" (p. 67), etc. The early modern period, obsessed by many things 
(actually common concerns anytime), is, finally, "age obsessed" (p. 274). 
Shakespeare's England is paranoid with a "palisading" mentality to guard 
against penetration, which, under James I' s pacific inclinations, becomes a 
colonizing mentality disguised by the pacific term "plantation." Colonizing — 
rape of the virgin — is severely condemned. 

The body-orifice-rape-pollution concepts applied to historical events and 
geographical entities yield stimulating insights, allowing the reader to feel that 
disparate, recalcitrant matters have been brought into focus. Yet this cultural-his- 
toricist treatment, inherently judgemental of the past in terms of a modern liberal 
agenda, must be at odds with the account that historians would typically offer. For 
instance, a palisading obsession fuelled by magical rites to ward off penetration 
and pollution is viewed in an historian's causal account as a rational national 
defense policy against real military, ideological and economic enemies. Deep 
structures or fanciful generalisations? There may be no mediation possible be- 
tween these viewpoints, but it would be useful to turn again to Sir Karl Popper on 
historical analysis and inference by analogy in The Poverty of Historicism. 

An important part of the historical collision Woodbridge maps is the growing 
ascendancy of rationalism within religious belief and practice. Given a "culture 
dominated by . . . religion" (p. 286), the is remarkably little said about religion, 

90 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

especially as conscious thought. REligion is assimilated to magic, as is theology, 
pictured here as continuous with magic. Magical beliefs may be incoherent, but 
that is "no worse than the systematically unified structure of unempirical illusions 
that is Christian theology" (p. 39). That this is ahistorical could be argued from 
Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars (1992), which shows Renaissance 
theologians meticulously distinguishing between lay Christians applying sacra- 
mentals (including charms and incantations) to this-worldly concerns, and pagan- 
ism and magic. The early modern world took seriously distinctions which 
Woodbridge elides. Being unsympathetic to the claims of religion is fair enough 
— the author's prerogative — so long as the early modems' own engagement with 
these claims (including rejection, by some forward wits) is not discounted. 
Woodbridge' s Shakespeare cares much more for the legacy of Rome than scripture 
and Christian doctrine. Valuable insights are offered this way, such as the notion 
of James I's Augustan ideology. Jacobean "officiai ideology" (p. 73) is, however, 
more complex, for James cultivated his image as both a David and a Solomon to 
his people. Nor was Jacobean ideology simply pacifist: Prince Henry's court 
exuded Protestant bellicosity. 

Among the new readings Woodbridge presents is Measure for Measure in 
terms of saturnalia. The "world-upside-down" topos adds invigorating new under- 
standing of struggles between youth and age, liberty and repression. But seeing 
the play only in satumalian terms renders invisible the great religious question 
with which Shakespeare engages: the tension between the demands of Christianity 
and ineluctible imperatives of law and polity. That the play probes the question, 
"Can there be a 'Christian' polity?" is signalled powerfully in its language. 
Woodbridge' s saturnalian account, highlighting sexual repression, concludes that 
the play's strategy "backfires" and that the moral chaos of its ending may be 
permanent. Taking Shakespeare's grasp of the religious-political dilemma, how- 
ever, allows one to see why such a conclusion is not the whole truth. 

Treatments of specific passages are often as exhilarating as the "bricolage" 
(p. 41) of academic opinion is dull. Among the best is the account of "evil eye" 
magic in Othello, demonstrating also the play's metaphorical richness. The dis- 
cussion of fertility /sterility associations and the regenerative power of dismember- 
ment in Titus Andronic us really does display the deeper structures of a play whose 
surface is strewn with puzzles. A fine treatment of deer-slaying in As You Like It 
reveals a subtle and complex debate, as does the discussion of Realpolitik in 
tension with magic ritual framework in Richard II. 

This is a longer book than necessary. The final chapter "Owning up to Magic," 
perhaps a camivalesque inversion, imputes magical thinking to the modern world 
as a pretext for castigating, as in a charivari, disapproved contemporary politics. 
This rébarbative exercise should have been omitted. The idea is much better 
realised in Lewis Lapham's "Elfland," in a recent Harper's. The proff-reading 
leaves also much to be desired: there are errors of fact and grammar. The writing 

Book Reviews / Comptes rendus / 91 

often seems provisional and cluttered with jargon. Pity that a book on Shakespeare 
and magic should be charmlessly written. 

GRAHAM ROEBUCK, McMaster University 


Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 

To celebrate its 20th anniversary Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly invites 
submissions on any theoretical, generic, historical, or cultural aspect of lifewriting. 
Especially welcome are articles which extend beyond the Anglo-American literary 
corridor. For more information, please contact Craig Howes, Department of En- 
glish, University of Hawai'i at Mânoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822, USA. E-mail: 

World Shakespeare Bibliography 

The World Shakespeare Bibliography is now available on CD-ROM, in a version 
edited by James L. Harner, and available at Cambridge University Press. For more 
information, please contact Professor Harner at the Department of English, Texas 
A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843^227, USA. 

The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition 

"The Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition: Alterations, Adaptations, Alternatives" 
is the theme of the Eleventh Biennial Conference of the International Society for 
the History of Rhetoric, to be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, July 22-26, 1997. 
For information, please write to Prof. Judith Rice Henderson, Department of 
English, 9 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 
S7N 3A5. E-mail: 

Le Moyen Français 

Colloque international sur le Moyen Français: Néologie et création verbale, 7-8 
octobre 1996, Université McGill, Montréal. Pour de plus amples renseignements, 
prière d'écrire au Prof. G. Di Stefano, Département de Langue et Littérature 
françaises. Université McGill, 3460, rue McTavish, Montréal, Québec H3A 1X9. 

94 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Hamlet East and West 

''Hamlet: East and West" is the theme of an international conference to be held in 
Gdansk, Poland, 27-30 September 1996. For more information on the programme, 
please write to Prof. Jerzy Limon, Theatrum Gedanense, Kolodziejska 9, 80834 
Gdansk, POLAND. 

Performance: Modern and Postmodern 

The journal Theatre Survey invites essays concerning how twentieth-century per- 
formances have put the "classics" into play: place of the written text, cultural work 
on canonical texts, appropriation of ancient cultural practices. Please contact: Prof. 
Gary Jay Williams, Department of Drama, Catholic University of America, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20064, USA. 

Baroque: Art et Nature 

Colloque intemationnal et pluridisciplinaire sur le discours dans l'Europe d'ancien 
régime: littératures nationales, théologie, musique, pédagogie, histoire de l'art. Le 
colloque se tiendra du 30 juillet au 2 août 1997 à la Herzog August Bibliothek, 
Wolfenbiittel, Allemagne. Prière de communiquer avec le Prof. Martin Bûcher, 
Herzog August Bibliothek, postfach 1364, 38299 Wolfenbuttel, ALLEMAGNE. 

Women Writers in the Colonial Period 

"The Golden Age and Women Writers of the Colonial Period" is the general theme 
of a conference to be held at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, 10-12 
October 1996. For more information: Prof. Valerie Hegstrom Oakey, Department 
of Spanish and Portuguese, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, USA. 

Recent Books 
Livres récents 

Anne-Marie Cocula. Etienne de la Boétie. Bordeaux, Sud-Ouest, 1995. 

Claude-Gilbert Dubois. Le baroque en France et en Europe. Paris, Presses Uni- 
versitaires de France, 1995. 

Lisa Ferraro Parmelee. Good News from Fraunce: French Anti- League Propaganda 
in Late Elizabethan England. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1996. 
Pp. 204. 

Alois Gerlo and Rudolf De Smet, eds. Mamixi Epistulae IIL Brussels: University 
Press, 1996. Pp. 329. 

Luce Giard. Les Jésuites à la Renaissance: système éducatif et production du savoir. 
Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1995. 

David Gunby, David Carnegie and Antony Hammond, eds. The Works of John 
Webster^ Vol.1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 

Michael Murrin. History and Warfare in Renaissance Epie. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1995. 

O Muraile, Nollaig. The Celebrated Antiquary Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh (c. 
1600-1671): His Lineage, Life and Learning. Dublin: An Sagart, 1995. 

Petrarch's Songbook: Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, a Verse Translation by James 
Wyatt Cook. Binghamton: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1995. 

Erika Rummel. The Humanist-Scholastic Debate in the Renaissance and Reforma- 
tion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. 

Daniel Russell. Emblematic Structures in renaissance French Culture. Toronto: 
University of Toronto Press, 1995. 

James Shapiro. Shakespeare and the Jews. New York: Columbia University Press, 

96 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Andrew Small. Essays in Self-Potraiture: A Comparison of Technique in the 
Self-Portraits of Montaigne and Rembrandt. New York: Peter Lang, 1996, Pp. 

Edward W. Tayler. Donne's Idea of a Woman: Structure and Meaning in The 
Anniversaries. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Pp. 190. 

Bruce Tolley. Pastors and Parishioners in Wurttemberg During the Late Reforma- 
tion. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. 

Bernard Wicht. L'idée de milice et le modèle suisse dans la pensée de Machiavel. 
Lausanne, L'Âge d'Honmie, 1995. 

The editor welcomes submissions on any aspect of the Renaissance and the Reformation 
period. Manuscripts in duplicate should be sent to the editorial office: 

Renaissance and Reformation 
Department of French Studies 
University of Guelph 
Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1 

Submissions in Enghsh or in French are refereed. Please follow the MLA Handbook, with 
endnotes. Copyright remains the property of individual contributors, but permission to 
reprint in whole or in part must be obtained from the editor. 

The journal does not accept unsolicited reviews. However, those interested in reviewing 
books should contact the Book Review Editor. 

La revue sollicite des manuscrits sur tous les aspects de la Renaissance et de la Réforme. 
Les manuscrits en deux exemplaires doivent être postés à l'adresse suivante: 

Renaissance et Réforme 

Département d'études françaises 

Université de Guelph 

Guelph (Ontario) NIG 2W1 


Les textes en français ou en anglais seront soumis à l'évaluation externe. Veuillez vous 
conformer aux conventions textuelles habituelles, avec l'appareil de notes à la fin de votre 
texte. Les droits d'auteur sont la propriété des collaborateurs et collaboratrices; cependant, 
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La revue sollicite ses propres comptes rendus. Si vous désirez rédiger des comptes rendus, 
veuillez communiquer directement avec le responsable de la rubrique des hvres. 


FALL 1995 





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Fall / automne 1995 (date of issue: October 1996) 

Canadian Publication Sales Agreement No. 0590762 ISSN 0034-429X 



New Series, Vol. XIX, No. 4 Nouvelle Série, Vol. XIX, No 4 

Old Series, Vol. XXXI, No. 4 1995 Ancienne Série, Vol. XXXI, No 4 





Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique. L'utilisation de r"allegacion" 

à des fms morales: l'exemple des Métamorphoses d'Ovide 

par Jean-Claude Moisan et Sabrina Vervacke 


A New Set of Spectacles: The Assembly's Annotations, 1645-1657 

by Dean George Lampros 

"Deir Sisters": The Letters of John Knox to Anne Vaughan Lok 

by Susan M. Felch 

"A Plott to have his nose and eares cutt of: Schoppe as Seen by the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury 
by Winfried Schleiner 


Langage et vérité. Études offertes à Jean-Claude Margolin par ses 
collègues, ses collaborateurs, ses élèves et ses amis, sous la direction de 

Jean Céard 

recensé par Peter G. Bietenholz 


Michael Bath. Speaking Pictures: English Emblem Books and Renaissance 
Culture', Elizabeth See Watson. Achille Bocchi and the Emblem Book as 

Symbolic Form 

reviewed by Anthony Raspa 


Diane Desrosiers-Bonin. Rabelais et l'humanisme civil 

recensé par André Toumon 


John R. Roberts, ed. New Perspectives on the Seventeenth Century 

Religious Lyric 

reviewed by Margo Swiss 


Jean-Paul Barbier. Ma bibliothèque poétique: Ceux de la Pléiade 

recensé par Jean Braybrook 

liro Kajanto. The Tragic Mission of Bishop Paul Juusten to 

Tsar Ivan the Terrible 
reviewed by Raymond A. Mentzer 





Voilà des années bien difficiles sur 
le plan budgétaire. Il n'est pas utile de 
faire la litanie des griefs qui s' accumulent 
dans les milieux de la recherche au 
Canada. On a souvent l'impression 
d'avoir besoin à portée de la main du 
double passeport qu'évoquait dans un 
poème récent Carole David {Estuaire, 
79, 1995): un passeport "pour les jours 
tranquilles, l'autre pour jouer les héros." 
Blottis dans nos bureaux, nous jouons 
tous et toutes les héros solitaires, menant 
la barque à bout de bras. Il faut dire, 
pourtant, que dans le domaine des études 
de la Renaissance, les résultats sont moins 
accablants. Les associations se renouvellent 
très vite en ce moment: on peut compter 
sur un bon nombre de plus jeunes 
chercheurs dont on retrouve souvent les 
excellents textes dans nos pages. C'est le 
cas notamment à la Société Canadienne 
d'Études de la Renaissance. Et la revue 
elle-même, avec l'appui renouvelé du 
Conseil de Recherche en Sciences 
Humaines du Canada, est assurée de son 
développement pour encore quelques 
années. Il est donc possible heureusement 
d'oeuvrer sur l'avenir. En terminant, 
toutes nos excuses à notre collaborateur 
Graham Roebuck pour les erreurs 
typographiques oubliées dans son compte 
rendu du dernier numéro. 

These are difficult budgetary years. 
There is no use really to evoke the litany 
of grievances which are now part of the 
research scene in Canada. It often seems 
that one needs to survive the double pass- 
port which Quebec poet Carole David 
alluded to in a recent poem {Estuaire, 79, 
1 995): one for quiet days, and another for 
days of heroism. Cuddled and unsung in 
our offices, with our quiet resolution to 
go on, we are all solitary heroes. In Ren- 
aissance Studies, it turns out that the 
present situation is very encouraging. 
Scholarly associations get the necessary 
membership renewal, and can count on 
younger academics whose texts you may 
find in these pages. The Canadian Soci- 
ety for Renaissance Studies is in that 
respect doing very well. Having just ob- 
tained renewed support from the Social 
Science and Humanities Research Coun- 
cil of Canada, the Renaissance and Ref- 
ormation can count on a few more years 
of interesting development. With this in 
mind, the future looks more workable, 
less vulnerable. In closing, we wish to 
apologize to our colleague Graham 
Roebuck whose review in our last issue 
contained some typographical errors (in- 
cluding one on the word "proof-read- 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 4 (1995) /3 

Lecture allégorique et lecture 

emblématique: l'utilisation 

de "rallegacion" à des fins 

morales; l'exemple des 

Métamorphoses d'Ovide 






Résumé: Le grand, dans VArchiloge Sophie, donne à "l'allegacion" deux 
finalités: embellir le langage et inciter à la vertu. Pour ce faire, il s 'ingéniera 
à fixer le sens moral profond que recèlent les fictions des Métamorphoses 
d'Ovide en les rangeant sous des catégories commodes et faciles d'utilisation 
pour qui veut s 'en servir à des fins argumentatives ( "Fausseté, " ** Luxure ". . .), 
avec, bien sûr, un très court sommaire de la fiction qui justifie la morale qu'il en 
tire. En donnant ainsi valeur d'exemples aux fictions des Métamorphoses, 
dans la partie de son livre qui traite de la rhétorique, en donnant donc à 
"l'allegacion " la valeur de l'exemplum, dont le but est également de convaincre 
ou d'embellir le discours. Le grand s'inscrit dans une tradition de lecture, 
héritée de Bersurius, qui marquera non seulement les Ovides moralises, mais 
aussi les traductions et commentaires des Métamorphoses, au moins jusqu 'au 
milieu du XVIe siècle. 

Au second livre de VArchiloge Sophie^ — "lequel parle des VII ars et 
généralement de toutes sciences"^ et plus particulièrement de 
"RETHORIQUE" —, Jacques Legrand traite de l'"allegacion."3 Cette figure, 
présentée sous un titre évocateur ("De allegacion par la quele tout langage se 
pare") est ainsi défmie: 

Allegacion est le droit parement de toute rhétorique et de toute poetrie, et 
puet estre nommée la souveraine couleur, car par elle tout langage se 
demonstre meilleur, plus souverain et plus auctentique. 

Si dois savoir que allegacion n'est autre chose nemais a son propos 
aucunes hystoires ou aucunes fictions alleguier ou appliquier, mais ce faire 
nul ne puet s'il n'a veu pluseurs hystoires ou pluseurs fictions [...]. Et pour 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 4 ( 1 995) /5 

6 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

tant se tu les veulz en ton langage alleguier tu dois considérer le propos 
duquel tu parles, et selon le propos tu regarderas les branches des figures qui 
s'ensuivent et prenras les hystoires appartenantes a ton propos, des quelles 
pareras ton langage. Et pour mieux cecy entendre nous povons donner 
exemple en cas que ton propos seroit a parler d'orgueil et a le reprouver [. 
. .]. Et de fait tu trouveras es figures qui s'ensuivent branches contenans 
orgueil es quelles sont touchées en brief les hystoires des orgueilleux [...]. 
Et pour tant en parlant d'orgueil tu pues ainsi dire: avise toy homme que ne 
soies aosé de présumer de toy et ne vueilles cuidier que tu soies chose de 
grant value; advise les hauîtains orgueilleux a quoy sont devenus ! Lucifer 
cheut du ciel par orgueil très misérablement, et Nabuchodonosor par sa 
presompcion de son royaume fut desrnis et en beste muez. Aman le très 
présomptueux au gibet fut pendu ou quel vouloit les justes condampner, et 
Pheton, le quel vouloit le ciel mener et gouverner, fut destitué; et le filz de 
Dedalus noyé, et Narcisus aussi. Si doit homme par telz exemples son fait 
aviser, et ne doit riens ou monde présumer: car orgueil veult cheoir, et a la 
fin doit par raison trebuchier ^ 

L'auteur fait suivre ce texte de deux séries de "branches," les unes tirées 
des Métamorphoses d' Ovide telles que Bersuire les a adaptées dans le livre XV 
de son Reducîorium morale, l'Ovidius moralizatus, les autres de la Bible. Et 
il les présente de la façon suivante: "Si s'ensuivent les figures contenans en 
brief ficcions et histoires en la manière dessus dicte,"^ pour les Métamorphoses; 
et pour la Bible: "Cy après s'ensuivent les hystoires plus essenciales de la Bible 
prouffitables pour dicter selon les propos qui aviennent, comme il est dessus 
dit."^ Ce rapprochement entre les deux textes témoigne sans doute d'une 
tradition qui se concrétisera en 1493 par la désignation de Bible des poètes'^ 
pour l'une des versions d'Ovide qui sera à l' origine de celle du Grand Olympe. * 
Alors que pour la Bible, Legrand regroupe ses "allegacions" selon un ordre 
alphabétique des figures exemplaires assez fidèlement suivi, pour les 
Métamorphoses, en revanche, il regroupe les fictions par livres, les faisant 
précéder de "branches" tirées du Libellas de formis figuris et imaginibus 
deorum, qui sert d'introduction à VOvidius moralizatus. 

Cette contextualisation nous aide à mieux comprendre le sens du texte de 
Legrand, surtout lorsque l'on sait que Bade lui-même, au début du seizième 
siècle, alors qu'il rééditait VOvidius moralizatus,^ voyait cette œuvre comme 
"un instrument de première main où le prédicateur pouvait tirer la substance 
de son sermon": '° 

Opus uidelicet ipsum predicatoribus i. diuini uerbi declamatoribus sane 
quam utile futurum: siue quod eiusmodi my thicis illecebris mortalium animi 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 7 

facilius et tenacius irretiantur ut sic admissus circum praecordia ludat: 
ridensque uerum dicat . 

Cette citation rejoint deux des affirmations de Legrand sur les Métamorphoses: 
selon lui, on emploiera l'^allegacion" [. . .] se [on] les veulzen [notre] langage 
alleguier" et "des quelles parer[ons notre] langage." L'"allegacion" est donc 
une figure par laquelle on cite un exemplum, comme T affirme Legrand lui- 
même à la fin du texte qui ouvre cet article: "Si doit homme par telz exemples 
son fait aviser. . ."'^ 

Gilles Declercq rappelle que "[. . .] chez Aristote, l'exemple, analogue 
rhétorique de l'induction, est comme l'enthymème 'un principe de 
raisonnement' (II, 20, 1393 a, 22)."^^ C'est que cette figure fait partie de 
l'argumentation deliberative et, dans le cas plus particulier qui nous occupe, 
elle doit servir à convaincre quelqu'un à adopter une conduite ou le dissuader 
de le faire. Pour Aristote, toujours selon Declercq: 

[. . .] l'exemple s' apparenterait davantage aux preuves subjectives, car son 
évidence se fonde surtout sur \q pouvoir sensoriel de l'image; il se combine 
donc aisément à la mobilisation oratoire des passions (à la différence de 
Tenthymème qui risquerait en pareil cas "de refroidir le discours," [Rhét., 
in, 17, 1418 a]). D'un moindre degré technique, plus apte à l'éloquence 
publique, l'exemple convient fort à la délibération tournée vers l'avenir et 
la prise de décision; l'exemple jouant alors le rôle d'un modèle d'action 
puisé dans le passé. ^'^ 

Aristote écrit en effet: "Lorsque tu veux produire un effet pathétique, n'emploie 
pas d'en thy même." '^ Quintilien,'^ outre l'utilité de Yexemplum "pour orner le 
discours," affirmera qu'il est l' argument "le plus efficace" ("potentissimum"). 
Affirmation reprise par de nombreux auteurs dont Averroès selon qui 
r"Exemplum in Rhetorica magis persuadet, quam enthymema."'^ 

C'est que proposer une conduite personnelle (que l'on veuille persuader 
ou dissuader quelqu'un de faire quelque chose), qui est le propre du sermon, 
tient également du genre délibératif et a quelque chose de la "harengue" 
qu' Aristote juge "plus difficile" que le plaidoyer, car, dit-il, "dans le premier 
cas, on s'occupe de l'avenir, et dans le second du passé."'^ L'exemple 
historique en s' appuyant "très précisément sur le lieu de la possibilité et de la 
réalité"'^ ouvre donc, pour ainsi dire, la porte de l'accessible. Le raisonnement 
sous-jacent à cette utilisation est le suivant: "Le plus souvent, l'avenir 
ressemble au passé."^^ Quant à "l'argumentation fabulaire, [elle met] en 
relation d'analogie deux séries d'objets, de personnes, ou d'événements."^' 

8 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

L* exemplum repose en effet, selon Quintilien^^ sur un rapport de similitude, totale 
ou partielle, que T on établit entre deux situations ou deux conduites, que ce rapport 
joue sur un lien de ressemblance absolue ("simile"), ou sur un lien de dissimilitude 
("dissimile"), ou sur un lien d'opposition ("contrarium"). Ce rapport de similitude 
peut aussi s'établir "du plus au moins ou du moins au plus." Ces catégories de 
Quintilien seront reprises par les rhéteurs au seizième siècle; en témoignent les 
citations du Thesaurus Rheîoricae, aux folios 51v° et suivants. 

À la limite, peu importe donc que les modèles proposés soient des êtres 
d'histoire, donc plus près d'un certain réel, ou des êtres tirés des "hystoires plus 
essenciales de la Bible," ou des personnages issus des fictions, l'important est 
de proposer des conduites que l'on pourra imiter totalement, ou partiellement, 
que r on devra ne pas suivre, que l'on essaiera de dépasser ou du moins que l' on 
essaiera d'atteindre. Et même si Quintilien^^ attribuait aux exemples tirés des 
"légendes poétiques" "moins de force probatoire," ils sont toujours 
recommandés, particulièrement les exemples tirés des fables ovidiennes dont 
la valeur morale a été très hâtivement et très universellement reconnue. 

Les prologues des éditions vemaculaires des Métamorphoses sont à ce 
sujet assez évocateurs. Ainsi, l'auteur de Y Ovide moralisé en v^r5,^'* justifie 
son travail de la manière suivante: 

Se l'escripture ne me ment. 

Tout est pour nostre enseignement 

Quanqu'il a es livres escript, 

Soit bon ou mal li escript. 

Qui bien y vaudroit prendre esgart, 

Li maulx y est que l'en s'en gart, 

Li biens pour ce que l'en le face [...]" 

Le traducteur de V Ovide moralisé en prosé^^ reprend un discours justificatif 
identique, qui amplifie le propos précédent et l'explicite. 

Selon que dit monseigneur Saint Pol apostre, les Escriptures sont escriptes 
à nostre doctrine et pour nostre enseignement, [...]. Es Escriptures doncques 
sont contenuz et trouvez les biens pour les retenir et faire, et les maulx aussi 
declairez pour les fouyr et délaisser. Si sommes nous grandement tenuz à 
ceulz qui par leurs estudes et beaulx escriptz ont enluminé les entendements 
des hommes. Et pour ce que ou dit volume de Metamorphose sont escriptes 
de moult plaisans choses, lesquelles ont esté et sont saigement exposées et 
moralisées à la bonne edification et doctrine de ceulx qui l' ont ve^ et verront, 
je me suis occupé à translater et exposer de latin en rime françoise les fables 
du dit volume selon que je les puis entendre.[. . .] Et combien que l'on les 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 9 

nomme fables et que aucuns les dient mensongieres, toutes voies icelles bien 
entendues selon ce qu'elles seront cy après exposées on y trouvera de grans 
vérités et mouralitez prouffitables assavoir, ja soit ce qu'elles soient 
enveloppées et couvertes subtillement soubz fictions, dont je ne pense pas 
et aussi ne pourroie je pas assez en explicquer tous les granz secretz qui y 

Le rapprochement entre la Bible et les Métamorphoses est encore une fois 
affirmé. Il est encore plus évident, dans la Bible des poètes, où l'on retrouve 
une formulation presque semblable à celle de Legrand. 

Combien que les fictions de aucuns vulgaires soient reputtees choses 
vaines et fabulatoires ausquelles ne fault adiouster aucune foy. Si nest il pas 
pourtant raisonnable que du tout on les regecte / car comme par experience 
nous voyons la saincte escripture en plusieurs lieux est veu user de similitudes 
et fables ainsi comme au livre des roys est recite la fable du roy des arbres. 
En Ezechiel de laigle qui fait importer la moelle du cèdre. Nostre seigneur 
aussi faisant en la terre ses predications selon le témoignage des ces 
evangelistes est veu user en plusieurs lieux de similitudes parabolicques et 
parolles faictes. Non pas pour vouloir induyre son peuple a croire la fiction 
/ Mais pour plus facillement leur donner a en entendre la vérité soubz celle 
fiction enclose. Vray est aussi que iamais de poète ou orateur de haulte 
eloquence ne fust bonnement prize fable qui ne fust exemplaire ou couverte 
de aucune vérité parquoy les saiges et grans clercz ne les ont point regectees 
mais délies ont tire allegoricquement / morallement hystoriallement ou 
reallement aucunes veritez moult prouffitables. [. . .] EtqueOvydeSalomeuse 
que si grant poète fut que son livre par anthonomasie et excellence est 
appellee la bible des poètes. Na assemble point les fictions et fables qui y ne 
sont quelles ne fussent reduictes a aucunes ventes ainsi comme bien apparaît 
en son livre [. . .] Oultre plus lestude des anciens poètes et orateurs estoit de 
solicitement couvrir les hy stoires et choses qui reallement ilz scavoient estre 
vrayes soubz fables et fictions parquoy Lucan est mieulx dit hystoriographe 
que poète. [. . .] Parquoy tirer vérité de fable et poeticque fiction est 
prouffitable. Et ce doit faire tout homme saige pour induire luy et les aultres 
a sapience / et vertus et bonnes meurs ainsi que moyennant layde du sainct 
esperit mon intention est de faire en lexposition des fables ce present livre.^* 

Le second prologue du Grand Olympe n'échappe pas à la règle. Y est 
également affirmée l'utilité des fictions, et particulièrement celles d'Ovide: 

Poésie mere de subtilité et ioyeuse invention soubz une couverte de fable 
elegante a si vrayement exprime la doctrine moralle & humanité que si 
lentendement du liseur nest du tout efface par ignorance / il en tirera 

10 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

honnestes enseignemens & manière de bien vivre: car ce nest que pure 
philosophie latente / a laquelle sainct Augustin au ii. de la doctrine Chrétienne/ 
prohibe faire allegories/ comme assez délie mesmes allegorisant. Parquoy 
en ce grand Olympe sont obmises en gardant le naturel de Lautheur tant que 
faire cest peu/ ainsi que chascun est tenu.^*^ 

Dans Ovid in Renaissance France. . .,^^ Ann Moss rappelle les arguments 
de Regius et d'Erasme sur T utilité des fables d'Ovide; ce dernier en effet, dans 
le De Copia, tire des leçons morales des fables d' Icare, de Phaéton, de Marsyas, 
d'Hercule, de Midas, de Circé et d'Ulysse et il affirme de plus qu'elles ont pour 
rôles de plaire, de convaincre et même de pratiquer la copia: "[. . .] pleraque 
soient adhiberi non solum ad fidem faciendam, verumetiam ad omandam rem, 
ad illustradam, ad augendam, ad locupletandam."^' Regius, quant à lui, 
signale, dans sa préface au duc de François de Gonzague,^^ la valeur exemplaire 
des fables ovidiennes en citant lui aussi les fictions de Lycaon, de Deucalion 
et Pyrrha, de Daphne, de Phaéton. Point de vue qui sera repris par Habert qui, 
comme on le sait, traduit Regius dans sa Dédicace au Roi en tête de sa 
traduction des Métamorphoses et dont voici un extrait significatif: 

Quand il escrit que la belle Daphne 

Fut conuertie en Laurier nouueau né, 

Ne veut il pas par ce propos comprendre 

Qu'elle vouloit virginité défendre, 

Et que l'honneur des vierges florissant 

Semble au Laurier tousiours reuerdissant? 

Quand il depainct l'ignorance & abus 

De Phaéton enfant du Dieu Phoebus 

Qui de son père eut le gouuernement 

Du chariot, pour vn iour seulement. 

Et qu'il ne sçeut le régir par droicture 

Dont il mourut par cruelle aduenture, 

N'est ce pas là monstrer apertement 

Que pour nourrir trop délicatement 

Enfans, & grand liberté leur permettre. 

On ne les peut en plus grand danger mettre?'' 

Sabinus et Aneau, dans des textes assez proches, rappellent eux aussi, à la 
suite de Melanchthon, le caractère édifiant des fables, à la condition bien sûr que 
1 ' on soit capable de soulever le voile et de les interpréter correctement. Savoir lever 
"la couverte de fable elegante" pour y découvrir le sens caché, qui n'est pas que 
moral ou incitatif d'une conduite, bien sûr;'"* savoir, de plus, "saigement" 
l'exposer au profit de tous, soit par une réflexion moralisante, soit par une 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique /Il 

traduction nettement orientée, voilà qui rendra ces textes profitables à tous. 
Rien d'étonnant alors que, dans la présentation des Métamorphoses, aussi 
bien dans les adaptations, les traductions ou les éditions latines. Ton ait eu 
tendance, au moins jusque vers les années 1 540, à mettre en évidence les fables 
ou des bribes de fables afin de mieux isoler le commentaire et de donner ainsi 
aux Métamorphoses le caractère d'un recueil d'exempla. C'est évident pour 
Bersuire et Legrand. Evencio Beltran a donné un exemple de cette technique 

dans la préface de son édition de VArchiloge ^^ Il faut cependant savoir que 

Bersuire donne un semblant de continuité à son texte, alors que Legrand isole, 
sur un fichier, la vertu à suivre ou le vice à éviter. Défilent alors sous nos yeux 
des vedettes matières qu' illustre un court sommaire, au sens narratologique du 
terme, pouvant faire alors office d'exemplum. Il est bien évident que, dans le 
cas de ces deux auteurs, les éléments qui sont retenus sont soigneusement 
choisis en vue de démontrer la thèse; car, puisque l' intention est de convaincre, 
il faut bien que le récit garde un aspect argumentatif .^^ 

Archiloge Sophie 

Ovidius Moralizatus 


Phebus mua le corbeau de blanc en noir, 
et le fist message de tous les maulx pour 
tant qu'il lui dénonça le mesfait de 
Coronides s'amie.^^ 


Pheton voulut le ciel gouverner contre la 
monicion de Phebus son père, mais il ne 
sceut gouverner, et pour tant il cheut.^' 


Pheton, par son mauvais gouvernement, 
fist les rivieres seichier, les estoilles 
enflamber, les Ethiopiens ennoircir, et 
pour tant fut en la mer gecté/' 

Cornus quondam fuit auis albissima et 
pulcherrima quae soli erat potissime 
dedicata: tandem ab ipso sole mutata est 
in nigrum colorem. Cujus rei causa fuit 
ista. [S'ensuit un sommaire plus détaillé 
du mythe.] Et ipsum coruum de albo in 
nigrum mutauit: et ut de cetero esset lator 
malorum rumorum perpetuo condemnauit.^ 

Phaeton filius Jouis juuenis quasi inuito 
pâtre accepit regimen.*'' 

Cum phaeton filius solis cumim patris: 
et equos eius flammigeros sibi commissos 
nesciret regere totus mundus . . .*^ 

Legrand retient les éléments du récit qui lui semblent justifier le sens de 
sa vedette. Le rapport entre le récit et la conduite à tenir est donc implicite; 

12 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

r allégorie est latente/^ C'est au narrataire, simple lecteur ou prédicateur, à 
expliciter ce lien soit pour sa conduite personnelle, soit pour la conduite qu*il 
proposera aux autres. Si Bersuire a servi de point de départ, sa méthode 
d'allégorisation n'est que suggérée et non utilisée. 

S'ils adaptent ou traduisent librement le texte d'Ovide, les deux Ovide(s) 
Moralisé(s) et la Bible des poètes adoptent la même attitude que Bersuire en 
mettant en évidence l'utilité des mythes par leur insertion entre deux autres 
éléments de discours. Si bien que l'on peut décomposer la transposition 
complète d'un mythe en trois parties: 

Étape n°l: l'annonce du 

Étape n°2: narration - 
développement = le récit 

Étape n°3: conclusion = 
le ou les vrais sens à donner 
à la fable. 

Celle-ci se fait au moyen 
d'un sous-titre qui comporte 
généralement des guides de 
lecture du récit qui suit. 

La traduction d'un récit est 
souvent le lieu de l'insertion 
de commentaires et 
d'énoncés qui tout comme 
les sous-titres proposent une 
lecture particulière du mythe. 

Exposition du récit selon 
les vérités que l'on y a 
trouvées, (historiques, 
morales, physiques, etc.) 

Placé en position centrale, le récit traduit sert donc d'argument ou d'exemple 
pour la démonstration finale. 

Si le texte du Grand Olympe présente un aspect différent,"*^ il cherche 
toujours à poser le récit ovidien comme représentatif d'une situation ou d'une 
conduite à rechercher ou à éviter. Le discours de chaque mythe s'articule dans 
ce cas en deux étapes: 

Étape n°l: l'annonce du récit 
Le sous-titre, de la même manière que 
celui que l'on retrouve dans les éditions 
moralisées, propose souvent une lecture 
du récit qu'il préface. 

Étape n°2: le développement et la conclusion. 
Le récit traduit est constamment remodelé 
en vue de correspondre à la lecture que le 
traducteur en propose, lecture bien 
souvent moralisante. 

Et, même si dans cette oeuvre les commentaires hors-texte allégorisants ont 
disparu, l'utilité morale que l'on reconnaît aux mythes ovidiens n'a pas 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 13 

changé. Témoin, le traitement particulier réservé au mythe du corbeau (livre 
II des Métamorphoses). 

Afin de saisir au mieux le type de "vérité morale" que les traducteurs vont 
greffer à ce récit, il nous est apparu nécessaire de donner tout d'abord un bref 
résumé du texte original. Chez Ovide, l'histoire se lit donc comme ceci: la fable 
est introduite par une comparaison antithétique entre la beauté du plumage des 
paons (récemment orné des yeux d'Argus) et la laideur de celui du corbeau. Le 
narrateur précise, qu'autrefois, le plumage du corbeau était pourtant d'une 
blancheur admirable: c'est donc l'explication de cette métamorphose qu'il se 
propose de nous livrer ici. L'apparition de ce plumage noir est due à un excès 
de bavardage: "Sa langue le perdit, sa langue loquace fut cause que sa couleur, 
jadis blanche est aujourd'hui le contraire du blanc. '"^^ Immédiatement suit le 
récit de Coronis et de son infidélité. Le corbeau ayant surpris l'adultère, "ce 
dénonciateur inexorable [s'envole] vers son maître'"*^ Phébus afin de lui 
apprendre son infortune. Il est aussitôt rejoint dans son vol par la corneille qui, 
ayant appris le motif de sa démarche, tente de l'en dissuader en racontant son 
propre exemple : "Mon châtiment [dit-elle] peut apprendre aux oiseaux à ne pas 
se compromettre par leur babil.'"*^ Malgré l'éloquence du discours qui suit, le 
corbeau rejette les conseils de la corneille et dénonce l'infidélité de Coronis. 
Phébus tue sa maîtresse infidèle, pour s'en repentir aussitôt amèrement. 
Emporté par le chagrin, il maudit son acte irréfléchi et, dans la foulée, maudit 
le corbeau qu'il punira à la fin du récit en muant son plumage de blanc en noir. 
Le bien-fondé de ce châtiment n'est pas conmienté outre mesure: à son 
habitude, Ovide laisse au lecteur le soin de juger par lui-même."*^ 

Il n'en va pas de même dans V Ovide Moralisé en prose et dans la Bible 
des Poètes: la fiction doit éclairer "l'entendement humain" et le mythe du 
corbeau doit être utile et "prouffitable" aux narrataires. Le récit devient donc 
un exemple type des méfaits de la "janglerie." 

Si nous reprenons l'organisation du discours définie précédemment et que 
nous r appliquons au texte de l' Ovide Moralisé en prose, nous retrouvons donc 
en annonce le sous-titre suivant: "Autre fable de Coronis la belle dont Phébus 
fut en amour, et comme le corbeau par sa janglerie fut mué de blanc en noir."*' 
Par l'étroite association du itirat janglerie et de la métamorphose, le traducteur 
nous propose visiblement une lecture du type "délit et châtiment" où la 
janglerie apparaît d'emblée comme un acte reprehensible puisqu'il entraîne 
une dégradation de blanc en noir. Le récit, tel qu'il est traduit par le narrateur, 
est donc un récit de punition. 

La Bible des Poètes propose le même type d'entrée en matière quoique 
légèrement moins expressif. Le récit est introduit ici par les annonces: 

14 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

"Comment Phébus par le rapport du corbeau occyst sa mye Coronis;"^^ 
"Comment Coronis devint Corneille et pourquoi;"^' "Comment Phébus mua 
le corbeau de blanc en noir [. . .]."^^ Les sous-titres exposent l'orientation que 
le traducteur souhaite donner à la fable du Corbeau, tout en retraçant un bref 
programme narratif des différentes étapes de ce récit (la préoccupation 
moralisatrice est ici doublée par des préoccupations de cohérence narrative, de 
succession du discours). La présentation du récit est semblable à celle de 
V Ovide Moralisé en prose: dans le premier sous-titre, le bavardage du Corbeau 
est associé à la mort de Coronis, un "rapport" est donc source d'un événement 
funeste, lâjanglerie a donc des conséquences néfastes: le bavardage est perçu 
comme nuisible et constitue une source de problèmes. 

Le sous-titre du Grand Olympe ne laisse place, quant à lui, à aucune 
équivoque possible. Au moyen d'un plaisant jeu de mot, nous apprenons que 
le récit qui suit explique comment "Par janglerie le corbeau neust oncques 
depuis son corps beau."^^ De même que dans V Ovide Moralisé en prose, 
l'annonce du discours qui va suivre en présente déjà la teneur: la fable est un 
récit de punition et la métamorphose sanctionne la. janglerie. Avant même 
d'entamer sa lecture du texte traduit, le lecteur est donc averti de certaines 
directives d' interprétation, de guides de lecture que le récit va étayer. Car celui- 
ci a également valeur de démonstration: en observant les modifications 
apportées par les traducteurs au texte original, on constate que la fable est 
désormais le lieu d'une abondante glose moralisatrice. 

C'est ainsi que le traducteur de V Ovide Moralisé en prose commence sa 
narraîio par une affirmation assez explicite: "[le corbeau] cheiit en icelle 
mutation par janglerie T^^ Ce premier énoncé reprend sensiblement le contenu 
du sous-titre. Le délit et le châtiment sont clairement exposés et la métamorphose 
est perçue comme une sanction: la fable est donc encore une fois annoncée 
comme un récit de punition. ^^ Plus éloquent encore, le recours à des lieux 
communs ou à des sentences. Le traducteur insère ainsi dans le discours de la 
corneille les deux mises en garde suivantes: "Trop tost vient a la porte qui 
malles nouvelles y apporte" et, un peu plus loin, "toutes choses, posé que 
véritables feiissent, ne estoient pas bonne à dire et que mieulx vault secret celer 
que tout ce qu'on scait reveler." En d'autres termes, le corbeau va donc être 
châtié pour son ignorance: il ne sait pas que se taire est parfois bon. 

Le recours à ces vérités communément admises permet de faire de la 
matière ainsi traitée un argument de force, une exposition éloquente des périls 
encourus par l'excès de parole. Les événements relatés dans la fable sont 
constamment mis en interaction avec des valeurs généralement admises: le 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 15 

proverbe illustre le texte traduit et la matière débattue dans la fable illustre à 
son tour les lieux communs. Le traducteur de V Ovide Moralisé en prose ne se 
contente cependant pas de ces ajouts: la conclusion du récit fait également 
l'objet de nouvelles modifications. 

Mais le corbin, qui se attendoit d'avoir quelque grant prouffit pour avoir 
porté à son maistre les maulvaises nouvelles de s'amye, fut frustré de son 
attente, car en lieu de guerdon Phebus lui mua la blancheur de ses plumes 
en couleur noire et si le mis hors de son service.^^ 

Le service intéressé du corbeau est, comme on peut désormais s'y attendre, 
assez sévèrement reçu. L'ensemble du récit répond aux éléments que nous avions 
dégagés dans le sous-titre: la. janglerie, le rapport par intérêt^^ de "maulvaises 
nouvelles" appelle une sévère sanction. . . L'amplification de cette sanction amène 
d'ailleurs un nouvel élément extrêmement intéressant. Ovide précisciit bien que 
Phébus transformait le plumage du corbeau, mais ne faisait aucune allusion à son 
exil. Dans la traduction, le châtiment du jangleur se décompose donc en deux 
temps: la perte ou dégradation d'un état premier (métamorphose) puis le 
bannissement (Phébus chasse le corbeau de son service). 

Les récits de la Bible des Poètes et du Grand Olympe peuvent ici être 
traités conjointement. L'étroite filiation de ces deux textes donne en effet 
naissance à un récit identique pour ce qui concerne les extraits que nous 
citerons. Dès la première modification, il apparaît que lorsqu'il s'agit de 
présenter la jonglerie comme un acte reprehensible, le récit de ces deux 
versions ne cède en rien à l'éloquence des modifications relevées dans l' Ovide 
Moralisé. Au tout début de la narration, les traducteurs recourent à la figure de 
la geminatio pour nous présenter le délit et le châtiment du corbeau : "le corbeau 
qui [. . .] avoit este blanc /[...] par sa jonglerie et rapport maulvais et par son 
non-scavoir devint noir [. . .]."^^ D'entrée, on présente le corbeau comme 
coupable de bavardage excessif, de mauvaises intentions et d ' une impardonnable 
ignorance. Trois idées évoquées dans le récit de V Ovide Moralisé en prose que 
l'on retrouve ici en toutes lettres. Démarche également identique à celle de 
r Ovide Moralisé en prose en ce qui concerne la valeur démonstrative du récit 
traduit: la narration rappelle déjà la moralisation contenue dans les sous-titres 
de ces deux traductions (la jonglerie entraîne des effets néfastes et appelle une 
punition). La jonglerie du corbeau devient d'autant plus reprehensible lorsque 
l'on apprend que ce dernier appartient à Coronis (au lieu de Phébus dans le 
texte latin) et qu'il aime "priveement Phébus."^ En plus d'être rapporteur, le 
corbeau est parjure, traître et intéressé. Morale qui sera renforcée par le recours aux 

16 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

proverbes. C'est ainsi que le discours de la Corneille sera appuyé des deux 
sentences suivantes: "tousiours [. . .] vient trop tost qui malles nouvelles apporte"^' 
et, un peu plus loin, "toute vente ne est pas bonne à dire."^^ Lorsque Phébus se 
repent d'avoir tué Coronis, il ne sait à qui s'en prendre "fors au corbel qui les 
maulvaises nouvelles luy avoit apportez."^^ Le jangleur voit donc son entourage 
se retourner contre lui. Et le mythe s'achève sur une conclusion toute aussi 
éloquente que celle de V Ovide Moralisé en prose: 

Le corbeau qui mérite et guerdon attendoit de Phebus pour la nouvelle que 
apportée luy avoit fut par son courroux déchusse de luy et en signe de 
douleurluy mua ses blanches plumes en noires. Et oncques depuis ny fut veu 
blanc corbeau ^ 

À l'exil et la dégradation du plumage, les traducteurs ajoutent le nouvel 
élément: corbeau = signe de douleur, annonciateur de mauvaises nouvelles. La 
janglerie du corbeau est donc un délit très grave puisque, pour l'éternité, elle 
fait de lui l'annonciateur des mauvaises nouvelles et plus particulièrement des 
nouvelles funestes. Les traducteurs n'hésitent donc pas, pour appuyer leur 
démonstration, à jouer sur les registres du lieu commun et du symbole (corbeau 
= oiseau de mauvais augure dont le plumage noir rappelle le deuil). . . 

Dans la traduction du Grand Olympe, la démonstration s'achève sur cette 
conclusion pour le moins significative. En revanche, pour les éditions moralisées, 
si le texte traduit répond aux guides de lecture ébauchés dans le sous-titre, il 
nous prépare également aux "vérités moult prouffitables" exposées cette fois- 
ci sans "le couvert de la fable," dans les allégories. 

Ainsi, pour le traducteur de V Ovide Moralisé en prose^^ le mythe du 
corbeau illustre deux grandes vérités. Dans une allégorie qu' il présente comme 
historique, Phébus tient le rôle d'un "jouvencel" réputé, aimant à la folie une 
belle dame nommée Coronis. Le corbeau tient, quant à lui, le rôle d'un 
serviteur qui "estoit grant flatteur et mal parlier et cuida bien par sa janglerie 
avoir de son maistre grand guerdon." Ainsi que l'annonçait la conclusion du 
récit le corbeau agissait par appât du gain. Cette première allégorie s'achève 
sur une délectable conclusion qui stipule: 

[. . .] que nul ne doit jamais d'autruy mesdire ne deflateurs s 'acointer, dont 
maintes gens ont esté deceiiz. Car flateurs et mal rapporteurs sont pires que 
larrons, qui n'en emportent que les biens, mais les autres emblent la bonne 
renommée d'autruy qui ne se peut mie condignement restituer, Et par telz 
mauldiz rapporteurs on été mains bons hommes mis à mort et diffamez 
contre vérité. Et par le corbeau [. . .] nous est signifié que nul ne doit semer 
matière de haine là ou il doit avoir amour. Et telz sont en dissencion qui puis 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 17 

retournent en grant amour, dont ceulx qui y ont mis division sont par après 
haiz et mauvouluz de toutes pars et non sans cause. 

La janglerie est associée à la médisance. Le traducteur met en garde ses 
lecteurs contre ce vice et leur déconseille même "de flateurs s'acointer." Ainsi, 
même si le récit traduit ne faisait pas allusion au bannissement du corbeau, 
r allégorie développe déjà l'idée d'un exil à infliger aux rapporteurs. 

La seconde allégorie ("Sentence moralle") que nous propose l' Ovide Moralisé 
en prose est anagogique: Phébus y représente la "sapience divine" et son geste 
meurtrier à la suite de la dénonciation du corbeau est en fait la représentation de 
Dieu qui châtie "la creature humaine qui s'accointe d'un estrangier, en méprisant 
la bonne amour de son créateur." Les regrets de Coronis amènent au pardon divin 
puisqu'en autorisant la naissance fabuleuse d'Esculape, Dieu sauve "le bon 
fruict." Quant au corbeau, c'est en fait l'incarnation du Diable, "qui tousjours est 
en aguet pour nous espier et accuser de noz péchiez," lui qui 

souloit estre blanc et beau, mais par sa presumptueuse janglerie il devint noir 
et si en fut bany de la maison et hors de la grace de Dieu son Créateur et 
tresbuchié au parfont d'enfer en pardurable dampnacion.^^ 

Le traducteur de la Bible des Poètes propose une unique interprétation du 
sujet.^^ Semblablement à l'allégorie de V Ovide Moralisé en prose, cette 
conclusion présente Phébus comme un jeune "damoiseau" très épris d'une 
belle demoiselle nommée Coronis. Le corbeau est toujours le serviteur flateur 
et "lozangeur." Et la sanction du "jangleur" provient du fait qu'après le meurtre 
de Coronis, Phébus "hayt moult le serf qui samye avoyt accusée et par sa 
janglerie occire lavoit fait. Pourquoy il le bouta hors de son service et de sa 
grace. Celluy fainct la fable estre mue de blanc en noir car comme dist le 
psalmiste Vir lingosus non diligetur in terra / Cest a dire que Ihomme raporteur 
et playdeur ne sera honnore ne ayme en terre." Reprise de ce que nous pouvons 
désormais appeler un lieu commun: la janglerie ou médisance est un vice 
hautement reprehensible qu'il faut éviter et il ne faut accorder aucun crédit à 
ceux qui la pratiquent, d'où l'idée commune aux trois versions de chasser les 

On le voit, dans les éditions moralisées, le traitement réservé à la fable du 
corbeau équivaut à la partie démonstrative d'un long discours dissuasif. Le 
récit s'insère dans un cadre narratif qui propose une lecture exemplaire du 
mythe: le sous-titre, qui associait déjà le délit dt janglerie à la métamorphose 
dégradante du plumage, trouve de nombreux échos dans la glose qui amplifie 
la nairration et l'ensemble est parachevé par le sens "réel" que l'on donne dans 

18/ Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

les allégories. Le texte du Grand Olympe, bien qu'exempt d'allégories, offre 
une démonstration tout aussi éloquente. En effet, "si lentendement du liseur 
nest du tout effacé par ignorance," l'insertion de sentences proverbiales, le 
recours à la geminatio et l'amplification de la finale du récit permettent 
aisément de tirer de cette fable "honnestes enseignemens & manière de bien 
vivre."^^ Semblablement à r"allegacion" que proposait Jacques Legrand, ces 
trois textes dénoncent une grave faute et emploient la fable, ainsi traduite et 
présentée, comme un instrument de démonstration. 

Cette narratio est moins débridée dans la traduction de Marot.^^ Deux 
passages méritent toutefois que l'on s'y arrête: 

Marot Ovide 

Certes ma peine, et ma punition Mea poena uolucres 

Doibt estre exemple et admonition, Admonuisse potest ne uoce pericula quaerant. 

À tous Oiseaux de quelconque plumage, (v. 564-565) 

De ne chercher par leur langue dommage. 

(II, V. 1047-1050) 

[. . .] 

Et le Corbeau, qui, pour avoir vray dit, Sperantemque sibi non falsae praemia linguae 

Pensoit avoir recompense et credit, Inter aues albas uetuit consistere coruum. 

Il condemna d'une colère grande, (v. 63 1 -632) 

Des blancz Oyseaulx, n' estre plus de la bande. 
(II, V. 1165-1168) 

Dans le premier extrait, Marot insiste, grâce à la figure de la geminatio, sur la 
punition et surtout sur la valeur exemplaire du récit de la corneille (il traduit 
"admonuisse" par "exemple et admonition"). Le deuxième passage est 
intéressant pour la mention de la grande colère de Phébus qui explique la 
punition que celui-ci inflige au corbeau. Passage qui est glosé dans l'édition de 
1556 par la manchette suivante d'Aneau: "Rapporteurs ne sont receuz entre 
gens de bien,"^^ lieu commun, on l'a vu, que l'on retrouve énoncé dans toutes 
les éditions moralisées. Il en est un autre qui reprend en toutes lettres ou 
presque une idée déjà exprimée dans l' Ovide moralisé en prose et dans la Bible 
des poètes, "Recompense à labeur de malle nouvelle."^' Ou cette manchette, 
écho de Bersuire et des traducteurs de la Bible des poètes et du Grand Olympe, 
qui se lit comme suit: "Corbeau est oyseau de mauvais rapport."^^ Enfin, cette 
autre: "De triste nouvelle, triste recompense."^^ Aneau veut donc lui aussi 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 19 

guider le lecteur par ces annotations en marge d'un texte qui, malgré sa fidélité 
plus grande au texte latin que celui des éditions françaises antérieures, n'en 
imprime pas moins sa marque personnelle. 

Une réflexion tout aussi intéressante pourrait être faite sur le thème de la 
jangleresse, employé très clairement au sens de "celle qui trompe," et suscité 
par le mythe d'Écho où l'on répète les mêmes lieux-communs de Bersuire à 
Aneau. Par exemple, l'une des lectures est de présenter la complaisance 
d'Écho envers les débordements de Jupiter de la façon suivante, chez Aneau: 
"Maquerelles sontgrandesjangleresses"^'*etde susciter chez Legrand l'en-tête 
suivant: "Maquerellerie."^^ Bien sûr, la glose d' Aneau a son originalité et 
déborde de la seule allégorie morale, mais il est quand même évident que les 
manchettes, que l'on vient de citer, et d' autres, que l'on pourrait ajouter, jouent 
à peu près le même rôle que les sous-titres des éditions antérieures ou que les 
vedettes-matières de Legrand. Est-ce pour cela qu'on a pu dire de ces gloses 
qu'elles "relev[aient] beaucoup plus de l'emblématique que du simple résumé 
référentiel"?^^ Remarque intéressante quand l'on sait que l'édition d' Aneau 
renferme des vignettes, véritable illustration narrative détaillée du récit qui se 
déroule sous nos yeux. Certaines manchettes pourraient alors, à tour de rôle, 
faire office de "sur-titre" à une vignette illustrant une tranche du texte narratif, 
d' autres serviraient de complément moralisant au récit sélectionné. Et l'édition 
d' Aneau s'approcherait alors d'un recueil d'emblèmes. 

Car il est bien évident que, pour nous, le texte emblématique est aussi un 
texte argumentatif à valeur hautement moralisante et qui a des affinités avec 
les textes que nous venons d'étudier. Il est vrai qu'avec le temps la vignette a 
fini par jouer un rôle important, mais il ne faut pas oublier que les premiers 
emblèmes d' Alciat ne reposaient que sur du texte.^^ Après tout l'Image, même 
si elle est importante, a très souvent comme objectif de renforcer un récit de 
type rhétorique dont les éléments ne sont retenus que pour leur valeur 
argumentative. Le "sur-titre," au-dessus de la vignette, joue le rôle de bien des 
sous-titres dans les éditions françaises antérieures des Métamorphoses ou 
encore de ce que nous avons appelé les vedettes-matières de VArchiloge 
Sophie. Enfin la morale, que l'on tire du récit narré ou illustré, est une incitation 
à imiter une conduite ou à s'en détourner. 

Un exemple particulièrement éloquent est celui de l'interprétation du 
mythe de Narcisse, dont on retrouve des lectures presque équivalentes, non 
seulement dans les traductions des Métamorphoses, mais aussi dans 
ï Imagination poétique^^ d' Aneau. Si l'on compare les textes, on remarque de 
troublantes similitudes: 

20 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 


Imagination Poétique 


Admiration amour et 
estime de soi mesme 

La Fonttaine du mircmr périlleux. 

Amour de soy mesme. 

Narcis ayant sa beauté veuè en l'eau: 
FAUX guider, et Fut amoureux de soy, tant se vit beau. 

oultrecuydance de soy. Et desprisant tous autres, nul n' ay ma 

Fors que soy mesme, et en soy s'enflamma 
Mescognoissanœ de soy D'ond peu à peu languissant, destre ainsi 
mesme cause vaine Sans jouyssance aimant: devint transi. 

CiOiRE. Tant qu'en perdant sentiment par stupeur 

Fondit du tout: et ftit changé en fleur. 
Stupeur et faulte de sens O jeunes gens, de là vous retirez. 
jusque a la mort, par Et en telle eau jamais ne vous mirez. 

Celle Fontaine est l'amour de soy mesme, 

Où qui se mire: autre que soy il n'ayme. 

De soy pourtant cognoissance n'ayant 

Tant qu'à la fin en devient au néant. 

amour de soy mesmes et 

Archiloge Sophie^ 


Narcisus desprisoit pour sa 
beauté toutes pucelleset 
nimphes, mais Echo 
l'ensuivoit pour son amour 
avoir, mais il la fuioit; et 
finalement lassé, il but en la 
fontaine, en la quelle, voiant 
son ombre, fut si ravi de sa 
beauté que il péri, et son 
corps fut mué en fleur, et 
son ame descendi en enfer. 

Que les manchettes des Métamorphoses rejoignent le texte narré et le 
commentaire de V Imagination. . ., rien que de très normal. Après tout Aneau 
est l'auteur des deux textes et il utilise dans les deux cas la même vignette. Déjà 
le rapprochement avec V Archiloge montre que la tradition allégorique a bonne 
durée et que toute cette interprétation remonte à Bersuire. Rien d'étonnant que 
l'on retrouve alors des échos de cette tradition dans l' Ovide moralisé en prose: 

Car quant Narcisus fut aagé de vingt et ung ans, il devint tant orgueilleux, 
fier et oultrecuidé pour sa beauté excellente qu'il ne daigna onques amer 
autre personne que soy mesme.*^ 

De Narcisus devant nommé fut la bonne renommée si grande pour sa beauté, 
mais il en fut si orgueilleux et fier qu'il en perdit fmablement sa vie et la 
bonne grace du monde.*^ 

Mais long temps après il se vit et s'en orgueillit pour sa beaulté, dont mal luy 
advint comme avez oy, et comme communément il avient aux orgueilleux 
pour leur orgeuil, car il desprisa tout le monde en soy prisant trop chierement. 
Et pour ce qu'il se vit et s'amusa follement au mirouer de la dite fontaine il 
y fut pugny de son dit orgueil et en morut, et puis fut son corps mué en fleur.*^ 

Les textes de la Bible des poètes et du Grand Olympe reprennent également la 
même thématique, soit par des modifications légères au texte d' Ovide, soit par des 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 21 

Plusieurs dames et damoiselles laymerent par amour / mais si fier et si 
orgueilleux estoit que nulles nen daigna aymer.*^ 

La se sceut amours de luy venger qui tant lavoit despite par son orgueil et par 
son oultrecuidance.*^ 

Narcisus pour sa beaulte senorgueillit tellement quil luy sembloit que au 
monde navoit son pareil. Il en hayt hommes et femmes et luymesmes trop 
ayma et se trahyt par le miroir de la fontaine de ce monde ou tant mira sa 
vaine beaulte que la mort luy vint [. . .].*^ 

Des exemples nombreux de concordance entre la lecture allégorique morale et 
ce que Ton appelle la littérature emblématique de plusieurs mythes pourraient 
être apportés en preuves de ce que l'on avance ici: la fable des Géants qui 
exploite le thème que "Dieu résiste aux orgueilleux"; celle de Lycaon qui 
tourne autour du thème de l'iniquité et du brigandage; celle de Mercure et 
d'Argus qui suscite l'image du flatteur; celle de Phaéton qui permet de 
développer, entre autres, soit le thème de l'orgueil ou celui de la responsabilité 
patemelle^^ ou d'illustrer le proverbe suivant: "Moyen estât est le plus seur"^^ 
ou celui-ci: "Qui plus hault monte qu'il ne doibt, plus bas descend qu'il ne 
vouldroit"^" et que l'on utilisera également pour allégoriser le mythe de 
Dédale. Et l'on pourrait continuer à satiété. 

On le voit donc, fondamentalement la lecture emblématique n'apporte 
rien de plus que la lecture allégorique sur le plan de la moralisation, que le point 
de départ soit la traduction appuyée d'un récit, par exemple celui d'Ovide, ou 
que ce récit soit la création de l'emblématiste. Ainsi Aneau réutilise l'une des 
interprétations du mythe du corbeau, la médisance, à propos d'une autre 
vignette et d'un autre récit, celui d'oiseaux charognards se repaissant de la 
chair de soldats tués au combat.^' Cet emblème intitulé "Les mesdisans après 
la mort" s'achève comme suit: 

TELZ noirs oyseaux, de malheureux destins, 
Les ennemys dénotent clandestins. 
Qui à la mort des gens vertueux bayent: 
Affm que d'eux ja defunctz la robe ayent. 
Et ceux lesquelz craignoient en leur vivant: 
Apres la mort ilz les vont poursuy vant, 
Par motz picquans de blame, et calomnie, 
De mesdisance, injure, et villainie. 
Et avant tout, leurs parolles premieres 
Ostent d'honneur (s' ilz peuvent) les lumières. 

22 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Et il n'est guère étonnant que dans ces deux types de discours, lorsqu'ils sont 
de type argumentatif, Ton retrouve la sentence, sous la forme de proverbes très 
répandus, soit qu'elle vienne renforcer Vexemplum dans l'allégorie, soit 
qu'elle soit au cœur même du processus emblématique.^^ C'est que la sentence 
tient de l'enthymème. Declercq,^^ Aristote à l'appui, la décrit comme un 
"enthymème condensé" et qui "combine avec efficacité les trois composantes 
de l'argumentation: la démonstration logique du syllogisme; la séduction 
idéologique d'une proposition doxale; V attraction psychologique d'un énoncé 
clair et généralisateur." Dans le cas où, bien sûr, quel que soit le type de 
discours retenu (allégorique ou emblématique), le but soit de convaincre. Car 
l'écriture emblématique déborde, elle aussi, du cadre restreint de l'allégorie 
morale. Drysdall affirme avec raison: "Trompé peut-être par les préoccupations 
morales et utilitaires d'Aneau et de Migneault, on a trop souvent décrit les 
emblèmes d' Alciat comme s'ils étaient tous moralisants et de portée générale. 
Si beaucoup le sont en effet, il faudrait cependant faire une plus large part aux 
emblèmes personnels et occasionnels, à l'élément de plaisanterie et de satire, 
de jeu et de topicalité."^"* Sans compter qu'un examen des autres oeuvres 
emblématiques d'Aneau (Imagination et Decades) permettrait de constater 
qu'il utilise les autres types de lectures, que celles-ci soient historique ou 
physique. Mais alors on aurait quitté le discours de conviction pour un discours 
explicatif, dont on pourrait également montrer les liens étroits qu'il entretient, 
dans ses thèmes et dans sa facture, avec la facture et les thèmes de la littérature 
allégorique traditionnelle. 

Université Laval 

Annexe I 


Ne nourrir les enfantz trop délicatement., f°. 01v° sq: "Le père qui trop l'enfant flate, / 
Nourriture trop delicate, / Liberté, & sote doctrine, / Sont cause que l'enfant mal fine." Suit 
la fable exemplum: "Du Singe & de ses enfans." Fable LXXXXVIII (f° 02r°): Tout ainsi 
font les parentz imprudentz / Qui ayment trop leurs enfantz sans mesure, / Par tel amour 
tumbent en accidentz, / Perdent l'esprit, & gastent leur nature: / Car leur baillant trop doulce 
nourriture / Et les tenir trop chers & trop aymez, / Tumbent en mal dont ilz sont diffamez, 
/ La vie est folle, & la fin est maulvaise, / Mais telz parentz doivent estre blasmez / Quand 
telle fin procède de telle aise."^' 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 23 

La Perrière: 

EMBLEME XLVII "Le Père doibt chastier ses enfans quand il est temps," f° b6v°: "SI fort 
le singe embrasse ses petiz/ Quen embrassant il leur livre la mort:/ Aulcuns pères on si sotz 
appetiz / A leurs enfans, que grand malheur en sort:/ Par les chérir de foie amour trop fort/ 
Dissimuler, souffrir leur insolence,/ Advient que quand ilz sont sortis denfance/ Se font 
punir de maulx incorrigibles./ Lors nest pas temps que Ion leur crye & tence/ Quand ilz sont 
cheuz en accidens terribles."^ 


Quand il escrit l'ignorance et abus 
De Phaeton, enfant du dieu Phebus, 
Qui de son père eut le gouvernement 
Du chariot, pour un jour seulement 
Et qu'il ne sceut le régir par mesure, 
Dont il mourut par cruelle torture. 
N'est ce pas le monstrer évidemment 
Que pour aimer enfants trop doulcement 
Et pour trop grande liberté leur permettre 
On ne les peult en plus de danger mettre?^ 

Aneau (Decades): 

Trop grand amour faict perdre les enfants (P B8v°).^* 


Praeter haec, duo sunt in hac fabula loci morales, obseruatione digni [...]. Alter docet, non 
esse seruanda illa promissa, quae non sunt his ipsis utilia quibus promittuntur: cuius loci 
et Cicero meminit lib. 3 Officiorum his uerbis: Sol Phaethonti se facturum esse dixit 
quicquid optasset. Optauit ut in currum patris colleretur: sublatus est, atque insanus 
antequam constitit, ictu fulminis conflagrauit. Quanto melius fuerat in hoc promissum 
patris non esse seruatum (f° C7v°).^ 


"Caecus amor prolis" , p. 226: "[Pline] Le singe , naturellement ayme tant, & est tant fol 
de ses petis, qu'en les embrassant & acolant, les estreint si fort, que souvent les opresse, 
& tue. Et ainsi fait comme plusieurs pères, qui amignardent tant, & sont tant douillets, & 
tendres pour leurs enfans, qu'en fin n'en font chose qui vaille."'"" 

Proverbia Gallicana: 

P. 32 r°: "Père doulx & piteux fait ses enfans malheureux & paresseux. / Blanda patrum 
segnes facit indulgentia natos."'"' 

24 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Annexe II 

Bible des poètes: 

F° clr°B: "Et le tiers [conseil] quilz [princes] se tenissent au meillieu du chariot et au 
meillieu de la voye / et ne déclinassent ne adextre ne a senestre ne aussi allassent trop hault 
/ affin quilz ne despleussent a Dieu par leur orgueil ne trop bas affin que par pusalinimite 
ne donnassent aulcune occasion de rompre de hayne a leurs subgectz."'*^ 

Beroalde de la Fœlicité humaine: 

F° XXIIII r°: "Aussi (disent Platon au cinquiesme de la republique, & au tiers des loix 
Hésiode) la moictié est plus utille & salubre que trop, & trop peu, qui sont tous deux 
nuysibles & dommageable [sic]." Aussi, f. XL v°: "Horace dit que vertu est le meillieu des 
vices réduit & séparé d'une part & d'aultre, c'est à dire n'estre trop hardy ne trop couart, 
ne trop liberal, ne trop chiche ne trop soubdain ne trop lent, & ainsi des aultres, brief, c'est 
garder le moyen & se gouverner moyennement en toutes choses & affaires. Ce que les bien 
heureux tiennent & observent." [En manchette vis-à-vis le texte: Les bien heureux gardent 
le moyen]. '^ 


P. 63, emblème 25: "Enquerirne faut plus que le sens humain ne peut porter " : "Ne trop 
ne peu: le moyen est louable. / Car souvent choit qui veut monter trop haut, / Pource 
enquérir par vain savoir ne faut: / Les hauts secretz dont l'homme n'est capable."'^ 

Les vies . . . des 7 Sages de Grèce: 

Les dictz de Pythacus, f. 36 v°: "Ne quid nimis. / Ne peu ne trop doit este ta mesure. / Prens 
le moyen, qui plus longuement dure. / Il y a moyen en toutes choses, aux extremitez 
desquelles ne consiste droit ny vertu. Peu et trop sont deux extremitez vitieuses: mais 
moyen & vertu se tiennent toujours au mylieu. Ce qui a esté bien descrit souz la fable de 
Phaethon, conducteur du Char du Soleil: auquel Phaethon fut commandé, que pour faire 
seure conduite du char & des cheveaux il n'allast ne hault ne bas: ains cheminast par le 
mylieu du ciel. Lequel commandement il n'observa, dont mal luy en print En tous nos 
affaires suy vons le mylieu, qui fait les hommes bien heureux: & ne faisons rien dequoy on 
puisse dire qu'il y ayt default, ou excès."'"* 

Proverbia Gallicana: 

P. 46 r°: "Vertu gist au milieu. / Virtus in medio constat honesta loco."*" 

Claude de Seyssel: 

P Ivii r°: ''Des enseignemens qui sont contenuz en ce livre I De toutes les bonnes choses 
du monde/ le moyen est le meilleur/ bien vivre/ et moyenner ses despens."'"^ 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 25 

Annexe III 


P. 296: "Qui plus haut monte qu'il ne doit / De plus haut chiet qu'il ne voldroit."'"* 

Corrozet — Hécatomgraphie: 

"Le maulvais eslevé, & le bon humilié" , p. 33: Mais le maulvais de haut voler s'efforce, 
/ Honneur prétend & grand authorité, é Par vaine gloire & par témérité, / En présumant plus 
de soy grandement / que ne le comprend le sien entendement. / Il entreprend les choses 
difficiles, é Qu'à son advis il trouve bien faciles, / Et se veult faire obeyr comme maistre 
[. . .]." Et plus explicitement, "Faire tout par moyen." , p. 132-133: "Emblème: Qui trop 
s 'exalte, trop se prise, I Qui trop s 'abaisse, il se desprise, I Mais celluy qui veult faire bien, 
I II se gouverne par moyen. [. . .] Que si tu veulx à bon port arriver, / Il ne te fault vers le 
ciel eslever. /[...] Mais si tu vas ne hault ne bas, adoncques / La voye est seure, & sans 
danger quelzconques[. . .]."'**' 

Corrozet — Fables d'Ésope: 

"Ne se glorifier du bien d'aultruy." , f° E4v° sq. , voir surtout la finale de la fable "Du Geay 
& des Paons" . Fable. XXIX.(E5r°): "Mais qui ensuyt ses hbertez/ Sans prudence & discret 
conseil, / Et se faict aux plus grands pareil / Par son orgueil, souvent advient / Que pauvre 
& souffreteux devient, / Car la raison ne permect point / Que qui plus hault qu'il ne doit 
monte, / Soit long temps vivant en ce poinct / Sans qu'il recognoisse sa honte.""'* 

La Perrière — Theatre des bons engins (s.d.): 

Emblème xxiii "Par trop cuyder & espérer Ihomme est deceu" , f° a8v°: "Le sot Pescheur, 
cuydant prendre une perche,/ Soubz ses fiUetz attrape ung Scorpion:/ Le sot joueur, royne 
& roy matter cerche/ Qui pour tout metz nempoigne quung pion:/ Assez cuyda le vaillant 
Scipiony Quand pour le Roy tua son serviteur./ Le cuyder faict souvent Ihomme menteur:/ 
Tel bas descend qui cuyde monter hault./ Somme, jamais Ihomme qui ayme honneury Ne 
doibt cuyder par trop plus quil ne fault.""' 


"Icar filz de Dedal volant trop hault avec plumes colées de cire, laquelle fondue pour trop 
approcher du soleil, ces aeles déplumées tomba en mer [. . .] car. Qui plus hault monte qu'il 
ne doibt, / Plus bas descend qu'il ne vouldroit" (Comm. d' Aneau, p. 126)."^ 

Les vies . . . des 7 Sages de Grèce: 

Les ditz des sages (suite des ditz des 7) f° 110 r°: "Les ditz des bons & sages notables / 
Ramentevoir souvent sont profitables. /[. . .] Qui trop hault monte tresbas chet bien 

26 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Proverbia Gallicana: 

F°. 39 r°: "Qui plus hault monte qu'il ne doibt, / De plus haut chet qu'il ne vouldroit.""* 

Proverbes anciens flamengs et François: 

P. 55: "Qui plus haut monte, qu'il ne doibt, de plus haut chet, qu'il ne vouidroit." Et, p. 1 36: 
"Qui plus haut monte qu'il ne doibt, plus bas descend qu'il ne voudroit.""' 


1. Jacques Legrand, Archiloge Sophie et Livre des Bonnes Meurs, édition critique avec 
introduction, notes et index par Evencio Beltran, (Paris, Honoré Champion 1986). 

2. Ibid., p. 58 sqq. En fait, Legrand ne traitera que de quatre arts: grammaire, dialectique, 
rhétorique et mathématique. 

3. Ibid., p. 156. 

4. Ibid., p. 156 sqq. 

5. Ibid., p. 157. 

6. Ibid., p. in. 

7. La Bible des poètes de metamorphoze (Paris, Antoine Vérard, 1493). 

8. Le grand Olympe des histoires poétiques du prince de poésie Ovide Naso en sa Metamor- 
phose, (Lyon, Denys de Harsy pour Romain Morin, 1532). 

9. En 1509, 1511, 1515 et 1521. 

1 0. Voir à ce sujet: Pierre Maréchaux, "Le Poème et ses marges. Herméneutique, Rhétorique 
et Didactique dans les commentaires des Métamorphoses d'Ovide de la fin du Moyen- Age 
à l'aube de l'époque classique," Thèse de doctorat d'état, Paris IV Sorbonne, Collège de 
France, 1993, p. 50. AnnMoss, Ovid in Renaissance France: A Survey of the Latin Editions 
of Ovid Printed in France before 1600 (Londres, The Warburg Institute, 1982) p. 25 sq. 

11. 1509,PAiv°. 

12. Poirion, Daniel, "L'Épanouissement d'un Style: Le gothique littéraire à la fin du Moyen 
Age" dans la Littérature française aux XlVe et XVe siècles, Heidelberg, 1988, p. 37: 
"Jacques Legrand fournit lui-même un modèle ou plutôt un système de l'ornement, 
découpant les Métamorphoses d'Ovide en exemples moraux; suit un compendium 
d'exemples bibliques, les hystoires plus essenciales de la bible pour dicter selon les propos 
qui conviennent. C'est ce qu'il appelle Y allegacion, c'est-à-dire la citation d'un exemple." 

13. L 'Art d'Argumenter. Structures rhétoriques et littéraires (Paris, Éditions Universitaires, 
1992) p. 108. 

14. Ibid., p. 107. 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 27 

1 5. Rhétorique, texte établi et traduit par Médéric Dufour et André Wartelle, annoté par André 
Wartelle (Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1973) t. 3, 1418 a. 

1 6. Institution oratoire, texte traduit et établi par Jean Cousin (Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1 976) 
V, xi, 6. 

17. Dans Bernardus loannes Baptistae, Thesaurus rhetoricae in quoi insunt omnes 
praeceptionnes. . . (Venetiis, apud haeredes Melchioris Sessae, 1599). 

18. Rhétorique, m, X,H\Sa. 

19. L'Art d'argumenter. . ., p. 108. 

20. Ibid. 

21. L'Art d'argumenter. . ., p. 110. 

22. Institution. . ., V, xi, 6-7. 

23. Institution. . ., V, xi, 17. 

24. Ovide Moralisé. Poème du commencement du quatorzième siècle, publié par C. de Boer 
(Amsterdam, Hans R. Wohlwend, 1984, réimpression du texte de 1915). 

25. Ibid.,t.l,\.l'l. 

26. Ovide Moralisé en prose. Texte du quinzième siècle, édition critique par C. de 
Boer,(Amsterdam, North Holland Publishing Compagny, 1954). 

27. Ibid., p. 43. 

28. Édition de 1 53 1 , Paris, Phihppe Le Noir, P a ii r°. 

29. Édition de 1539, Paris, Amoul Langellier, livre VI, T i v**. 

30. P. 30. 

31. LB93C. 

32. P. Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseos libri quindecim, cum commentariis Raphaelis Regiis 
(Paris, Basilae per Joan, Hervagium, MDXLIII). 

33. François Habert, Six livres de la Metamorphose, Paris, 1549, p. 7. 

34. Selon les auteurs, les fables recouvrent quatre ou trois lectures possibles. 

35. P. 15 sq. 

36. N'est-ce-pas le rôle qu'avait la narratio en rhétorique? Quintilien la définit ainsi: "La 
narration: l'exposition persuasive d'une chose faite ou prétendue faite ("Narratio est rei 
factae utilis ad persuadendum expositio" Institution. . ., IV, ii, 31)." Traduction de Jean 
Cousin dans Études sur Quintilien. Contribution à la recherche des sources de l 'institution 
oratoire (Amsterdam, P. Schippers, 1967), p. 232 [réimpression de l'édition Boivin & Cie 
Éditeurs, Paris, 1935]. 

37. P. 161. 

28 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

38. Pxxviir". 

39. P. 160. 

40. F°xxxiiiv°. 

41. P. 160. 

42. Pxxiiiir°. 

43. Notion du "prouffi table" des fictions traduites. Voir à ce sujet le prologue du livre VI du 
Grand Olympe cité précédemment. 

44. Cette traduction nous est livrée sans allégories hors-texte. 

45. Traduction établie par Georges Lafaye, Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide (Paris, Les Belles 
Lettres, 1966) p. 55. Traduction des vers 540-541: "Lingua fuit damno; lingua faciente 
loquaci, / Qui color albus erat nunc est contrarius albo." 

46. /^iW., traduction des vers 546-547: "[. . .] non exorabilis index/ Ad dominumtendebat iter.** 

47. Ibid. , p. 56, traduction des vers 564-565 : "Mea poena volucres / Admonuisse potest ne voce 
pericula quaerant." 

48. Voir par exemple le traitement réservé au mythe de Phaéthon. L'écart entre texte latin et 
l'interprétation données par les textes traduits est particulièrement sensible dans l'épitaphe 
qui clôt la fable. Alors qu'Ovide signale l'ambition et la louable témérité de Phaéthon, les 
traducteurs des éditions moralisées ne retiennent dans cet épitaphe que le "fol orgueil" du 
fils de Phébus. . . 

49. Ovide Moralisé en prose, t. 1, p. 93. Nous soulignons. 

50. Édition de 1531, livre II, Pxviv°. 

51. Ibid., f°x\i\°. 

52. Ibid.,f°x\UT\ 

53. Édition de 1539, livre II, f° XXX r°. 

54. P. 93. Nous soulignons. 

55. Nous pouvons ici signaler que, dans les traductions moralisées, l'on retrouve le terme 
"cheùt" dans chaque récit de métamorphose que l'on associe à un grave déht. Voir à ce sujet 
l'exemple de Phaéthon, celui d'Icare, de Narcisse, etc. 

56. P. 93. 

57. P. 95. 

58. Le corbeau "se attendoit quelque grant prouffit." 

59. Bible des poètes, f° xvi \° et Grand Olympe, f° xxx v°. 

60. Ibid. 

61. Ibid. 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 29 

62. Ibid. 

63. Bible des poètes, f° xvii r° et Grand Olympe, f° xxxii r°. 

64. Ibid. De même, au livre IV, l'association de la couleur noire et de la douleur sera reprise 
dans le mythe de Pyrasme et Thisbé et au sixième livre (mythe de Progné et de Philomèle), 
le corbeau sera associé à d'autres oiseaux en "sigifiance de dueil et de tristesse." 

65. Allégories aux p. 95-96. 

66. P. 96. 

67. Allégorie au f° xvii r° et xvii v°. 

68. Prologue du livre VI, II, f° i v°. 

69. Trois premiers livres de la Metamorphose d'Ovide (Lyon, Rouillé, 1556). 

70. Ibid., p. 159. 

71. Id. 

72. Ibid.,p. 150. 

73. Ibid.,p. \51. 

74. Ibid., p. 22%. 

75. P. 165. 

76. Françoise Bardon, "Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide et l'expression emblématique," dans 
Latomus, Revue d'études latines XXXV, (1976), p. 88. 

77. Marie-Luce Demonet, Voix du signe: nature et origine du langage à la Renaissance (1480- 
1580) (Paris, Champion, 1992), qui affirme (p. 397), Balavoine et Saunders à l'appui, que 
"l'emblème est [. . .] d' abord une épigramme, que les succès d'éditions ont fait accompagner 
d'illustrations" (p. 397). 

78. Imagination poétique, traduicte en vers François des Latins, et Grecz, par l 'auteur mesme 
d'iceux (Lyon, Bonhomme, 1552). 

79. P.231sqq. 

80. P. 66. 

81. P. 165. 

82. P. 122. 

83. P. 123. 

84. P. 125. 

85. La Bible. . ., fo xxviii r° et le Grand Olympe, f° xlviii r°. 

86. La Bible. . ., f° xxix r° et le Grand Olympe, f° xlix v°. 

87. La Bible. . .. livre III, P xxx r°. 

30 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

88. Voir à ce sujet l'annexe I. 

89. Manchette de la p. 109 dans Aneau, voir annexe II. 

90. Manchette de la p. 126 dans Aneau, voir annexe III. 

91. Imagination..., p. 7 \ sq. 

92. Voir les annexes I, II, III. 

93. P. 104. Nous soulignons. 

94. Denis L. Drysdall, "Alciat et l'emblème," dans Le Modèle à la Renaissance, études réunies 
et présentées par C. Balavoine, J. Lafond, P. Laurens (Paris, Vrin, 1986), p. 178. 

95. Gilles Corrozet, Les Fables du tresancien Esope Phrigien premièrement escriptes en 
Graec, & depuis mises en Rithme Françoise (Paris, Denys Janot, 1542). 

96. Guillaume La Perrière, Le Theatre des bons engins, auquel sont contenus cent Emblèmes 
moraulx (Lyon, Jean de Tournes, 1545). 

97. François Habert, Six livres de la Metamorphose, Paris, 1549, P a iii v°-a iiii r**. 

98. Barthélémy Aneau, Decades de la description, forme, et vertu naturelle des animaulx, tant 
raisonnables, que brutz (Lyon, Balthazar Amoullet, 1549). 

99. Georgius Sabinus, Fabularum Ovidii interpretatio tradita in Academia Regiomontana 
(Witebergae, ex officina haeredum G. Rhaw, 1555). 

100. Claude Paradin, Devises héroïques (Lyon, Jean de Tournes et Guil. Gazeau, 1557). 

101 . Proverbia gallicana secundum ordinemAlphabetireposita, &abIoarmeAEgidioNuceriensi 
Latinis versiculis traducta, correcta & aucta par H. Sussannœum., Secunda aedition, 
prima longé castigatior. Parisiis, Apud Haeredes Mauricij à Porta, in clauso Brunello, ad 
D. Claudij insigne, 1558. 

102. La Bible des Poètes de Ovide Methamorphose. Translatée de latin enfrancoys. Nouvellement 
(Paris, Philippe le Noir, 1531). 

1 03 . Beroalde de la Fœlicité humaine, traduict de Latin en Françoys [par Calvy de la Fontaine] 
(Paris, Denys Janot, 1543). 

104. Guillaume Guéroult, Le Premier livre des emblèmes (Lyon, Balthazar Amoullet, 1550). 

105. Les Vies et motz dorez des sept sages de Grèce: Ensemble le Miroerde Prudence. Le tout 
mis en Françoys, avec une brieve, & familière exposition sur chacune autorité & sentence. 
(Paris, Estienne Groulleau, 1554). 

106. Proverbia gallicana. . ., 1558. 

107. Claude de Seyssel, Senecque des motz Dorez des quatre vertus Cardinalles de latin 
translate enfrancoys reveu et corrige nouvellement oultre les précédentes impressions, 
(Paris, Denis Janot, s.d.). 

108. Schulze-Busacker, Elisabeth, Proverbes et expressions proverbiales dans la littérature 
narrative du Moyen Age français (Genève, Slatkine, 1988). 

J.-C. Moisan et S. Vervacke / Lecture allégorique et lecture emblématique / 31 

109. Gilles Corrozet, Hécatomgraphie (Paris, Denys Janot, 1540). 

110. Gilles Corrozet, Les Fables du tresancien Esope. . ., 1542. 

111. Guillaume La Perrière, le Theatre des bons engins. . ., 1545. 

112. Emblèmes d'Alciat, de nouveau Translatez en François vers pour vers jouxte les Latins. 
Ordonnez en lieux communs, avec briefves expositions, et Figures nouvelles appropriées 
aux derniers Emblèmes, traduction et commentaire de Barthélémy Aneau (Lyon, Rouillé, 

113. Les Vies et motz dorez des sept sages de Grèce. . ., 1554. 

114. Proverbia gallicana. . ., 1558. 

115. Proverbes anciens flamengs &françois correspondants de sentence les uns aux autres, 
(Anvers, Plantin, 1568). 

A New Set of Spectacles: 
The Assembly 's Annotations, 



Summary: With the collapse of press censorship that followed the impeach- 
ment of William Laud in the Fall of 1640, a group of London printers took 
advantage of their new-found freedom and encouraged the House of Commons 
to convene an assembly of divines whose sole task was to revise the notes 
located within the margins of the Geneva Bible. The new annotations, it was 
agreed, were to be affixed to the margins of the Authorized Version, which 
would subsequently be sold as an annotated Bible. London 's newly liberated 
presses, however, produced a flood of Bibles, and the price of Bibles naturally 
fell. Such market conditions meant that an annotated Bible, more costly to 
produce, would be rendered unmarketable. Fortuitously, the men assembled 
to compose the new annotations came up with a set far too lengthy to be 
confined to the margins of the Authorized Version. The resulting commentary, 
which was published in 1645 as a separate volume, proved to be a marketable 

When the Authorized Version of the Bible made its debut in 161 1, the 
reading public's reaction to the new translation was hardly a positive 
one. Its margins contained no textual commentary, the very feature that had 
made the Geneva Bible the popular favorite in England for three-quarters of 
a century. The vast majority of England's literate persons, it seems, preferred 
an annotated Bible over a Bible with bare margins. As a result, during the reign 
of James I and for most of his son's reign, the Geneva Bible held its own against 
what was a newer and, arguably, a better translation. Long after its printing was 
banned in 1616, it remained the Bible used in most English-speaking house- 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 4 ( 1 995) /33 

34 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

holds. The King and many of the bishops, on the other hand, viewed the Geneva 
Bible and its anti-authoritarian marginal notes with a great deal of suspicion. 

When during the primacy of William Laud numerous obstacles were 
placed in the way of procuring a new copy of the Geneva Bible, its distribution 
quite naturally began to wane. Laud's impeachment in the fall of 1640, 
however, was immediately followed by the collapse of press censorship. One 
might expect that under the auspices of a free press, the Geneva Bible would 
have experienced something of a revival. It did not. Such a revival was 
impossible, moreover, because English printers chose not to reissue the 
esteemed text from their presses. Considering how in the fall of 1640, 
conditions seemed ripe for its resurgence, it is indeed difficult to understand 
why the Geneva Bible was not immediately reprinted in England. My purpose, 
therefore, is to attempt to explain why this should have happened. 

In November 1640, faced with a financial crisis and a Scottish uprising, 
Charles I summoned the parliament that would eventually topple him from his 
throne. Having been hastily dismissed eleven years earlier for its progressive, 
reform-minded politics, parliament was determined to take full advantage of 
the King' s political and financial weakness and force him to accept the changes 
he had at one time possessed the power to resist. One of the new parliament's 
first acts was to put an end to the censorship which had banned many of 
England' s best loved books. ^ Few books were cherished more than the Geneva 
Bible. In 1640, moreover, almost an entire generation had passed since the 
Geneva Bible had been printed in England. 

The work of exiled EngUsh Protestants residing in Geneva during the bloody 
reign of Mary Tudor (1553-1558), the Geneva Bible made its debut in 1560 and 
was an immediate success. It owed its appeal to the clarity of its prose, the 
conditions under which it was produced, and the men who produced it. By far its 
most important asset, however, was its marginal commentary "upon all the hard 
places." We can quite reasonably attribute the Geneva Bible's immense popular- 
ity to its exegetical notes, which were, in John Eadie's assessment, "lucid, 
dogmatic, and practical, presenting such aspects of truth and duty as were then all 
but universally prized."^ For almost a century the Geneva Bible remained the 
preferred household Bible for English-speaking Protestants.^ The Bishops' Bible 
( 1 568) offered little competition, and even the Authorized Version of 1 6 1 1 did not 
immediately supplant the Geneva Bible as the most popular text. Between 1575 
and 1616 successive editions of the Geneva Bible were introduced yearly. More 
than 60 editions of the Geneva Bible appeared after 1611 alone. In that very year, 
in fact, it was issued in folio by the King's printer. 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 35 

Although the vast majority of the literate public found in the Geneva 
Bible's marginalia an edifying and valuable scriptural "aid," its notes were not 
loved by all. They raised more than a few eyebrows among the bishops. James 
I despised them because of what he perceived to be their seditious content. The 
King made no secret of his hostility toward the Geneva Bible when at the 
Hampton Court Conference in 1604 he declared, "I profess I could never yet 
see a Bible well translated in English; but I think that, of all, that of Geneva is 
the worst." His orders for the Authorized Version mandated that 

no marginal notes should be added, having found in them which are annexed 
to the Geneva translation (which he saw in a Bible given him be an English 
Lady) some notes very partial, untrue, seditious, and savoring too much of 
dangerous, and traiterous conceits. As for example. Exodus 1.19, where the 
marginal note alloweth disobedience to Kings. And 2 Chronicles 15.16, the 
note taxeth Asa for deposing his mother, only, and not killing her. 

In his opposition to exegetical tools, James was adamant. The sixth of his 
fifteen rules "to be observed in the translation of the Bible" mandated that "no 
marginal notes at all. . . be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew 
and Greek words." As a result, the Authorized Version contained no textual 
commentary. The reading public, however, had grown accustomed to having 
at their disposal scriptural aids for both private study and devotions and 
therefore continued to use the Geneva Bible at home. Still, the controversiality 
of its notes had won the Geneva Bible many enemies, some of whom occupied 
powerful positions. Backed by a King ever anxious to counter the Geneva 
Bible's influence, William Laud eventually succeeded in his attempt to 
prevent its printing in England. In 1616 the Geneva Bible was added to a 
growing list of banned books, after which it had to be imported from Holland. 
By 1630 even its importation had been forbidden. The demand for the Geneva 
Bible was so great, however, that booksellers risked harsh penalties by 
smuggling copies into England."* Dutch printers cooperated by assigning a 
false date of 1599 to the title page, so it would appear as though the smuggled 
copies had been produced in England prior to the ban. 

With the collapse of press censorship in November 1 640 and the "printing 
explosion"^ that followed, many literate persons in England undoubtedly 
expected that the Geneva Bible would once again be printed on English soil. 
While it is clear that having to smuggle copies of the Geneva Bible over from 
Amsterdam had to some extent impeded its circulation, it is equally clear that 
the inconvenience incurred had done nothing to diminish the Geneva Bible's 
immense popularity, especially among dissenters. The fact that a copy of the 

36 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Geneva Bible was such a difficult item to obtain had probably boosted its 
popularity.^ In 1 640, to be sure, popular demand for scriptural aids was greater 
than ever. For the first time in almost a quarter of a century, English printers 
were free to issue fresh copies of the Geneva Bible to meet the ever-present 
demand for the esteemed text. Oddly enough, they did not. In fact, the Geneva 
Bible was never again printed in England. 

Why, with the presses freed and the monopoly of Bible-printing at an end,^ 
did London stationers choose not to reprint the Geneva Bible? Presumably, 
copies were still being imported from Holland, but it is difficult to understand 
why the Geneva Bible would continue to be imported when it could much more 
easily have been produced at home. After 1644, moreover, copies could no 
longer be imported from the Continent because it had ceased being printed 
there as well. Prima facie, the decision of English printers not to reissue a 
known bestseller such as the Geneva Bible appears to have been a foolish one. 
That the Geneva Bible was no longer printed anywhere after 1644 might 
suggest that by mid-century the demand for scriptural aids had subsided. 
English printers, however, felt that this was not the case at all. 

By 1640 when demand for the Geneva Bible was ostensibly at its highest 
point ever, a group of London printers was at that moment petitioning the 
House of Commons for the license to have exegetical notes added to the 
margins of the Authorized Version. Initially, the printers had contemplated 
simply attaching the old Geneva notes to the Authorized Version. Later it was 
decided that it would be better if the Geneva notes were revised first. The 
license was granted, and a committee of divines was convened by the House 
of Commons. Despite the public's unfavorable reaction to the Authorized 
Version, it had for more than 30 years resisted the imposition of a commentary 
upon its margins. Finally, when the nation was on the brink of civil war, the 
presses had been freed from the pressures of Laudianism, and Charles I was no 
longer in a position to regulate their output, 

hence were diverse of the stationers and printers of London induced to 
petition the Committee of the Honorable House of Commons, for license to 
print the Geneva notes upon the Bible, or that some notes might be fitted to 
the new translation: which was accordingly granted, with an order for review 
and correction of those of the Geneva edition, by leaving out such of them 
as there was cause to dislike, by clearing those that were doubtful, and by 
[revising] those as were defective. . . For which purpose letters were directed 
to [the divines] from the Chair of the Committee for Religion, and personal 
invitations to others, to undertake and divide the task.* 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 37 

The divines soon discovered, however, that the margins of the text were 
too confining, and it was agreed that the new annotations should constitute a 
separate volume. What began, in other words, as a project to revise the Geneva 
notes in order that they might be updated and made to match the text of the 
Authorized Version ended up as a commentary so lengthy and so detailed that 
it could no longer be confined to the margins of the text. 

In 1645 England witnessed the premier appearance of a Bible commen- 
tary that was designed to be purchased separately as a companion to the 
Authorized Version. The Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New 
Testament, or the Assembly's Annotations, were originally contained in one 
volume. Successive editions were enlarged to make up two volumes, pub- 
lished in 1654 and again in 1657. Thus, the literate public's demand for 
exegetical tools did not abate, but rather was satisfied by the emergence of a 
completely new set of annotations expected to take the place of the old Geneva 

Thus, by choosing not to reprint the Geneva Bible, London stationers were 
not ignoring consumer demand. They simply recognized that there were many 
different ways of satisfying that demand. Having considered their options they 
chose what they believed would best satisfy the reading public's demand for 
scriptural aids. Ultimately, their decision not to reprint the Geneva Bible, but 
rather to petition for a license to affix a commentary to the margins of the 
Authorized Version reflects their resourcefulness as well as their own peculiar 
assessment of market conditions. 

"The people," the Preface to the Assembly's Annotations explained, 
"complained that they could not see into the sense of Scripture, so well as 
formerly they did by the Geneva Bible, because their spectacles of annotations 
were not fitted to the understanding of the new text, nor any other supplied in 
their stead."^ The absence of exegetical notes was, according to the divines, the 
principal flaw that the reading public had found in the Authorized Version. 
Surely, the printers also understood this. As with James F s hostile reaction to 
the Geneva Bible, in which "it was not so much the translation as the 
accessories that he objected to,"'° the reading public's unenthusiastic response 
to the Authorized Version was, the printers and divines realized, not so much 
a criticism of the translation itself as it was a criticism of its lack of accessories. 
In most other respects the Authorized Version was regarded as the work of 
good, qualified scholars, some of whom were good Puritans as well.'' It was 
not so unpopular as to be unmarketable. On the contrary, with some important 
modifications, not to the text itself but to its margins, the Authorized Version 

38 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

could, the printers believed, satisfy the reading public, just as the Geneva Bible 
had once done. In other words, their petition to have notes fitted to the 
Authorized Version, instead of relying upon a proven bestseller, demonstrates 
their confidence in the Authorized Version's marketability. 

Furthermore, by petitioning to have annotations added to the margins of 
the Authorized Version, the printers were, in fact, taking part in a century-long 
debate between the reading public, on one side, and the civil and ecclesiastical 
authorities, on the other, over the role of scriptural aids and exegetical tools. 
While they had virtually no say as to which translation was used in the pulpit, 
the vast majority of literate persons had shown their preference for an 
annotated Bible. Time and again, they chose for themselves and for their 
households a Bible equipped with explanatory notes to guide them through the 
text. The authorities, on the other hand, for reasons of their own, sought by 
various measures to deprive the reading public of scriptural aids. The Geneva 
Bible, as we have seen, was vigorously opposed by the King and many 
members of the higher clergy. Furthermore, the King refused to permit any sort 
of exegetical tool in the translations he sanctioned. 

Without notes the church's official translation never became the popular 
favorite. As early as 1539 when the Great Bible became the church's first 
official "vernacular" Bible, a significant portion of the reading public pre- 
ferred the annotated Mâtth&v/ Bible (1537) for home use. Similarly, when the 
church adopted the Bishops' Bible as its official translation in 1568, the 
Geneva Bible had already established itself as the household Bible of choice. 
Although the Authorized Version became the church's official translation in 
1611, it was not widely used in the home until after the middle of the 
seventeenth century. The reading public had become accustomed to scriptural 
aids, and no translation could ever be expected to achieve widespread circu- 
lation as a book for the home unless accompanied by a commentary of some 
sort. Opting for annotations affixed to the church's official translation would 
rectify the problematic situation of having for public use a different Bible than 
the one used privately by a majority of the reading public at home. Here was 
a chance for the printers to promote national unity by fostering a situation in 
which the Bible of the church and the household Bible of the people were one 
and the same. 

With the license to revise the Geneva notes granted, the assembled divines 
were faced with the issue of how best to perform the task set before them. 
"First," they explained. 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 39 

as we had no thoughts of such a service, until by Authority we were called 
unto it, so since we have accepted of it, we have thought of nothing so much, 
as how we might discharge it, with best advantage to the glory of God, and 
the instruction of his people, and therefore we have put ourselves to much 
more pains (for many months) in consulting with many more authors, in 
several languages, then at first we thought of, that ... we might bring in such 
observations, as might not only serve to edify the ordinary reader, but might 
likewise gratify our brethren of the ministry, at least such among them, as 
have not the means to purchase, or leisure to peruse so many books as (by 
order of the Committee) we were furnished withall, for the finishing of the 
work committed to our hands. '^ 

As they endeavored to shed light upon the Scriptures, the divines considered 
both what the people wanted as well as what was the people needed for their 
spiritual nourishment. Their goal, we must remember, was not simply to cater to 
public opinion, but to offer at the same time a truly edifying exegetical companion 
to the Bible. Ultimately, their work was simplified because that is exactly what the 
people had demanded from the beginning. Thus, the only way to fulfill their 
commission and satisfy popular demand was to provide a commentary that was 
faithful to the hallowed truths of the Calvinistic Reformation. 

The Assembly 's Annotations arose under the auspices of the Long Parlia- 
ment (1640-1653), which later authorized the composition of such master- 
pieces as the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and Catechisms (1648). 
In fact, of the eight learned divines who labored to produce the annotations, at 
least six — William Gouge, Thomas Gattaker, John Ley, Francis Taylor, 
Daniel Featly, and one Mr. Reading — later served on the Westminster 
Assembly. The annotations, as a result, were the product of some of the best 
Reformed minds in England, as their content well attests. 

The Calvinistic tone of the notes is unmistakable. They set forth, as did the 
Geneva notes before them, the Reformed doctrines of human depravity, free 
grace, and unconditional election. 

All whom [God] elected shall believe in Christ and obey the Gospel (John 

God by his election framed a new body out of mankind in opposition to the 
first, whose head was Adam, in whom they all did sin and die, and ordained 
Christ to be their head, that in him, all might be gathered and made partakers 
of him by his grace, life and glory; so also hath he accomplished this counsel 
of his in time, dispensing all his graces unto his chosen by Christ in his sacred 
communion. . . . Election or choice here is taken for the eternal decree of 

40 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

election, which is of certain men in time drawn out of the common lump of 
corrupt mankind (Ephesians 1 .4). 

Christ is the meritorious, grace the efficient and faith the instrumental cause 
of our justification and salvation: grace and faith stand one with another, to 
which these two are [both] contrary to [being] saved by ourselves and our 
works. And because it might be objected that faith is our work, and 
consequently that if we are justified by faith we are justified by works, the 
Apostle immediately addeth that though this faith be in us, yet it is not of us; 
that is, not from the power of nature, but that it is merely the gift of God 
(Ephesians 2.8). 

We are God's workmanship, both in respect to our first creation and in 
respect of our regeneration, which is a second creation: ... for he speaketh 
not of us as we were by nature, but as new creatures in Christ by grace 
(Ephesians 2.10). 

On the subject of foreknowledge, the divines explained that "those whom God 
foreknew" in Romans 8.29 refers to "those whom [God] marked out as it were 
out of all other men in the world, and set his affection upon." Foreknowledge, 
they argued, is actually synonymous with "preordination, or foreappointment" 
(I Peter 1 .2). Moreover, the "election of grace" in Romans 1 1 .5, they posited, 
refers to the act "not whereby men choose grace, but whereby God chooseth 
us of his grace and goodness." 

The new annotations were in many ways reminiscent of the old Geneva, notes 
in both their content and, at times, their wording. In some instances, the divines 
had chosen to quote Lawrence Tomson's notes on the New Testament verbatim: 

God is most free, and cannot be taxed with injustice, though he cast brighter 
beams of his favor upon one than another; for although he chose and 
predestined to salvation them that are not yet bom, without any respect of 
worthiness; yet he bringeth not the chosen to their appointed end, but by the 
means of his mercy, which is a cause next under predestination: Now mercy 
presupposes misery, and misery, sin, and a voluntary corruption of mankind, 
and this corruption presupposeth a pure and perfect creation. Moreover, 
mercy is shown by degrees, to wit, by calling by faith to justification and 
sanctification, so that at length we come to glorification. Now all these 
things ordinarily following the purpose of God, do clearly prove, that he can 
by no means seem unjust in loving and saving his (Romans 9.15). 

God did not choose us because we were, or otherwise would have been holy; 
but to the end that we should be holy, being clothed with Christ' s righteousness 
through faith (Ephesians 1 .4). 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 41 

Since the annotations were originally intended to be contained within the 
margins of the Authorized Version, it was expected that they would be quite brief. 
In the end, the laboring divines deemed this to be a burdensome and unnecessary 
requirement and they decided that the annotations should be more substantial than 
the Geneva notes. As they explained in the Preface to the 1645 edition: 

Though we hold the Geneva annotations to be in the main points of religion, 
sound and orthodox in doctrine, and guilty of no error, . . . (and taking them 
for such as for those times wherein they were made, were very worthy of 
praise for their profitable use, for then they were the best that were extant in 
English) we conceive for ourselves, that we shall better discharge the trust 
reposed in us, and do more answerably to the intention of those who set us 
on work, and better satisfy the expectation of such others as set observant 
eyes upon our assiduous and sociable pursuance of the service imposed on 
us, if (being as repairers of buildings to rip into an old house) we rather took 
it quite down, and built a new one, [rather] than patched it up, with here and 
there a new piece of our own putting in, which would not be decently suitable 
to the other parts, nor any way answerable, either in measure or manner of 
structure, to such a model . . . some apprehensive men have already 
prefigured to our performance.'^ 

The Preface to the third edition (1657) reveals more still: 

These Annotations were at first intended, as those before in the Geneva 
Version, for marginal notes only affixed to the text. To which purpose, in the 
directions then delivered unto us, it was required that they should be much 
of the same size with them. . . Our endeavor was to be as brief and concise 
as well we might, and we were therefore constrained ... to let pass many 
things not unworthy otherwise of due observation and large discussion, that 
our notes, having only a narrow by-place assigned them on the outside of the 
leaf, might not in undue and undecent manner so enlarge their quarter, as to 
encroach beyond just proportion upon the spaces that were to be reserved for 
the text. Hence it came to pass, when the work came abroad, that diverse 
notes seemed not so full nor so clear, . . . while "endeavor and brevity bred," 
as usual, "some obscurity": and much was missed by many, . . . which well 
might, and would have been the greatest part of it inserted, had the lists and 
limits prescribed us afforded room with any fitness to receive it. . . 
Afterwards upon some second thoughts and further consideration, it seemed 
good unto those, who had put us upon this work, to alter their course at first 
propounded and to publish the Annotations apart by themselves; the grounds 
of that former limitation and confinement both of us and them being now 
removed; some of those, who having gone far beyond the bounds formerly 
fixed, had by mutual advice and agreement resolved to abridge, were then 
requested to lay that labor aside, and to let their parts go entire as they were.'* 

42 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

The resulting notes were far more comprehensive than even those attached to 
later editions of the Geneva Bible. '^ No longer confined to the margins, the new 
commentary was naturally able to cover more of the Scriptures. More detailed, 
however, could also mean more cumbersome, and the divines hoped that the 
new annotations would achieve widespread circulation. 

Ultimately, as the divines sought to create a scriptural aid that would both 
edify and satisfy the reading public, they identified even more options than the 
printers. The printers were confident that an annotated Authorized Version 
could satisfy popular demand for scriptural aids. Still, they were at first 
convinced that an annotated Bible was their only option. The divines, on the 
other hand, seem to have felt that an annotated Bible was not the only 
acceptable or marketable alternative. Moreover, the quality of their annota- 
tions eventually convinced the printers that the reading public would accept a 
parallel commentary in lieu of a marginal commentary. 

One might argue, of course, that the divines were more concerned with the 
glory of God and the edification of the saints than they were with marketability. 
Ultimately, however, the decision to issue the new annotations as a separate 
volume was a wise one from a marketing point of view. In truth, the annotations 
were more marketable as a separate volume. Great as the demand for exegeti- 
cal tools was, an annotated Bible, more expensive because it was naturally 
more costly to produce, could not be expected to compete with the numerous 
cheap Bibles that flooded the market in 1640 once the monopoly of Bible- 
printing ended. '^ Annotated Bibles, however popular, would inevitably be 
priced out of the market. ^^ A separate commentary, on the other hand, could be 
expected to do quite well. While "unofficial guides to interpretation of the 
Bible, Biblical dictionaries and concordances, versifications of Scripture, 
were published in significant numbers,"'^ a concise yet scholarly Bible 
commentary (printed in English), such as the Assembly's Annotations, at the 
time of its initial appearance was one of a kind. 

Not surprisingly, the Assembly's Annotations were received with enthu- 
siasm as soon as they appeared. The Preface to Matthew VooXq' s Annotations 
on the Holy Bible (1685) testifies to their popularity. "About the year 1640," 
the writer tells us, 

some deliberations were taken for the composing and printing other English 
notes (the old Geneva notes not so well fitting our new and more correct 
translation of the Bible). These were at first intended to be so short, that they 
might be printed together with our Bibles in folio or quarto. But those divines 
who were engaged in it found this would not answer their end; it being not 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 43 

possible by so short notes to give people any tolerable light into the whole 
text; yet they so contracted their work, that it was all dispatched in one 
volume; which though it were at first greedily bought up, yet we cannot say 
it gave so general a satisfaction (by reason of the shortness of it) as was 
desired and expected. So as upon the second edition it came forth quite a new 
thing, making two just volumes. This was so acceptable to the world, that 
within sixteen years ^^ it was ready for a third edition, with some further 

Several things are revealed here. First of all, we are told that the reading public 
readily accepted the new notes despite the fact that they did not appear as 
marginalia. In fact, it would be safe to say that the notes succeeded precisely 
because they were not confined to the margins. The laboring divines seem to 
have realized that literate English Protestants were hungry for an exegesis of 
the Scriptures both more detailed and more comprehensive than marginal 
notes could provide. The notes' marketability, in other words, was not at all 
compromised by the fact that they had to be purchased as a separate volume. 
On the contrary, the notes sold quickly, we are told. Within less than a decade, 
moreover, the reading public was ready for an expanded version of the notes, 
which was issued as two volumes in 1654. The second edition was so 
successful that only three years later in 1 657 the notes were once again updated 
and enlarged. 

Clearly, it was their lengthiness that had rendered the later editions of the 
notes even more popular than the first edition. So comprehensive, in fact, was 
the third edition that it was marketed as "an entire Commentary on the Sacred 
Scripture: The like never before published in English." While neither the 
Geneva notes nor the first two editions of the new notes had aimed at covering 
the whole Bible, the third edition, the divines argued, "may not unduly be 
deemed An entire Commentary upon the whole Body of the Bible; . . . such (it 
may with good warrant be averred) as hath not at any time appeared in our 
Language before."^' The final edition of the annotations became the closest 
thing to a comprehensive Bible commentary that English readers had yet seen. 
While other commentaries had preceded it, they were not detailed enough to 
be deemed truly comprehensive. For example, although the annotations of the 
Italian reformer John Diodati had been translated into English and appeared in 
print in 1641 , they did not cover all of the Scriptures. There were, the divines 
explained, "many Chapters which Diodati hath either wholly passed over 
without any Note at all, or only here, and there made a . . . short Note." In those 
same areas neglected by Diodati, however, the divines boasted to have "made 

44 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

many learned and useful Annotations: And . . . fully cleared sundry difficulties, 
which Diodati hath passed over in silence, or professed that. This difficulty is 
not to be resolved ''^^ Certainly there were other foreign-language commentar- 
ies that had not yet been translated into English. Thus, it was not until 1 657 that 
the reading public had the option of purchasing an English commentary that 
could legitimately claim to cover the entire Bible. Over a quarter of a century 
elapsed before Matthew Poole's annotations appeared on the market. 

When the Assembly's Annotations made their debut 350 years ago, they 
were the first of their kind. For the very first time there existed in English a 
scholarly commentary, both detailed and Reformed, to accompany the Author- 
ized Version. The printers and the laboring divines had succeeded in producing 
an exceedingly marketable alternative to the annotated Bible, and many more 
would follow the path that they had boldly forged. Although the printers' initial 
reaction to the breakdown of press censorship had been to petition for license 
to issue the Authorized Version as an annotated Bible, extensive marginalia 
would certainly have made it more costly and therefore less likely to capture 
the market from the flood of cheap Bibles that appeared after 1640. A separate 
commentary, on the other hand, was a much wiser choice, and the first step in 
that direction was taken when the laboring divines disregarded their instructions 
and produced a much lengthier commentary than the printers had initially 
envisioned. It is, of course, impossible to tell whether the divines, in an astute 
assessment of market conditions, had foreseen that the collapse of the monopoly 
would render an annotated Bible unmarketable or had by sheer inadvertence gone 
beyond the prescribed limits. In the end, it was the printers who decided to alter 
their previous course and issue the annotations as a separate volume. While they 
could have requested that the divines go back and abridge their work, they chose 
instead to accept the lengthy annotations as they were. 

The Assembly 's Annotations responded to the reading public' s hunger for 
a commentary to accompany the text of the Authorized Version. The fact that 
they met with immediate success demonstrates that the demand for scriptural 
aids was as great in 1645 as it had been in 1560 when the Geneva Bible first 
appeared on the market. Moreover, the successful marketing of a set of 
annotations of use only to those who owned or planned to purchase a copy of 
the Authorized Version suggests that whatever ambivalence the reading public 
had once felt towards the new translation had been overcome. As far as literate 
English Protestants were concerned, the Authorized Version's major flaw had 
been corrected. At long last, they had a set of spectacles with which they could 
look into the text of the Authorized Version with the same satisfaction and 

Dean George Lampros / A New Set of Spectacles / 45 

understanding they had previously felt only with the Geneva Bible. Shortly 
after the new annotations became available for public consumption, the 
Authorized Version gradually began to displace the Geneva Bible as the most 
popular household Bible. However, the Authorized Version that by mid- 
century had superseded the Geneva Bible was not the same Bible that James 
I had commissioned. While the actual text remained untouched, the way in 
which it was read and interpreted had been irreversibly altered. After 1645 the 
Authorized Version was seen by a great many people through the spectacles 
of the new annotations. A text, after all, means whatever its readers say it 
means, and the meanings attached to the text were bound to be affected by the 
new interpretive apparatus provided by the Assembly ' s Annotations. What had 
not changed, of course, was the market for scriptural aids. The reading public 
had remained steadfast in their demand for spectacles to accompany the 
Authorized Version, and their resolve ultimately outlived the forces that had 
tried so hard to suppress it.^^ 

Boston University 

1. On the subject of censorship in Stuart England, see Christopher Hill's The Century of 
Revolution, 1603-1714 (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1961), pp. 96-100. 

2. John Eadie, The English Bible (London: Macmillan, 1 876), 2: 15. 

3. See Brooke Foss Westcott, A General View of the History of the English Bible (Lx)ndon: 
Macmillan, 1 868), p. 96; William Lowther Clarke, Concise Bible Commentary (New York: 
Macmillan, 1952), p. 330; Derek Hirst, Authority and Conflict: England, 1603-1658 
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), p. 78. 

4. Christopher Hill mentions that "[in] 1632 a man was imprisoned for importing Geneva 
Bibles" — e.g. The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution (New York: 
Penguin Press, 1993), p. 58. 

5. Christopher Hill, A Nation of Change and Novelty: Radical Politics, Religion and Literature 
in Seventeenth-Century England (London: Routledge, 1990), p. 219. 

6. Also, it should be noted that it was less expensive. Between 1616 and 1640 a copy of the 
Geneva Bible, though imported, sold for less than a copy of the Authorized Version, which, 
because of the monopoly of Bible-printing, was a costly item. 

7. Hill, The English Bible . . ., pp. 65-66. 

8. Annotations Upon all the Books of the Old and New Testaments; Wherein The text is 
Explained, Doubts Resolved, Scriptures Paralleled, and Various Readings Observed. By 
the Joynt-Labour of Certain Learned Divines, thereunto appointed, and therein employed 
(1645), Preface. Hereafter cited as \h& Assembly's Annotations. 

46 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

9. Ibid. 

1 0. F.F. Bruce, The History of the Bible in English, 3d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 
1970), p. 97. 

11. In his discussion of the Authorized Version, Christopher Hill mentions that "Puritans 
divines played a large part in the work alongside members of the hierarchy" — e.g. Century 
of Revolution, p. 97. 

12. Assembly's Annotations, Preface. 

13. Ibid. 

14. Assembly's Annotations (1657), vol. 1, Preface. 

15. One historian reminds us that "by the end of the sixteenth century the Geneva Bible had 
become far different from the 1 560 edition. Tomson' s notes on the New Testament in 1 576, 
the two Calvinistic catechisms added in 1568 and 1579, and the Junius notes to Revelation 
that appeared in editions from 1599 on — all reinforced the Calvinistic tone of the Geneva 
Bible." See Lloyd E. Berry's introduction to The Geneva Bible: A Facsimile of the 1560 
Edition (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), p. 16. Needless to say, these 
changes also added significandy to the length of the marginal notes. 

16. Hill, The English Bible, pp. 65-66. 

17. When in 1649 and again in 1679, a special edition of the Authorized Version was printed 
with the old Geneva notes, it failed to attract consumer attention. See Eadie's The English 
Bible, 2:37. 

1 8. Hill, The English Bible, p. 52. 

19. Clearly, the writer is referring to the Assembly' s Annotations, yet he errs in claiming that 16 
years had elapsed between the first and the third edition, when in reality only 12 years had 
passed. Perhaps, he refers to the time between the printers' petition, which he places around 
1640, and the issuing of the third edition in 1657, which would make approximately 16 

20. Matthew Poole, Annotations on the Holy Bible (1685), vol. 2, Preface. 

21. Assembly's Annotations (1657), vol. 1, Preface. 

22. Ibid. 

23. An earlier slightly different version of this article was publihed in Cromwelliana (July 
1994), 7-23. 

"Deir Sister": The Letters 

of John Knox to 
Anne Vaughan Lok 


Summary: Anne Vaughan Lok was a prominent supporter of the protestant 
cause and an active participant in the early reformed communities of the mid- 
sixteenth century. Although recent scholarship on Anne Lok seems to indicate 
that she may have felt hindered by her own gender and overly dependent on 
male reformers, a close study of the epistolary exchange between Lok and John 
Knox reveals the presence of a strong woman, whom Knox often consulted, 
whom he persistently invited to Geneva, and whom he often considered as an 

Anne Vaughan Lok Dering Prowse, a member of the sixteenth century 
London merchant class, published during her lifetime a small but 
significant body of literary works including translations of sermons by John 
Calvin and Jean Taffm, two dedicatory epistles, and a sonnet sequence on 
Psalm 5 L ' As increasing attention is paid to her life and her writings, the Anne 
Lok who emerges is revealed as a prominent, active, and articulate member of 
the English reformed community. 

Unlike many women writers of the sixteenth century, quite a lot is known 
about Anne Lok as Patrick Collinson demonstrated in his classic biographical 
article of 1 965 .^ Lok was probably bom in the early 1 530s to Stephen Vaughan, 
a London mercer and later the crown financial agent in Antwerp, and Margaret 
(or Margery) Guinet, silkwoman to Anne Boleyn while she was Queen.^ 
Vaughan apparently spent a great deal of time on the Continent and when 
Margaret died on September 16,1 544, he exerted considerable effort in finding 
a wife suitable to manage his household and his three children, Anne, Jane, and 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 4 ( 1 995) /47 

48 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Stephen, who "wanting a mother and lacking the presence of a father, may soon 
tumble into many displeasures"/ His second marriage, licensed on April 27, 
1546, was to Margery Brinklow, widow of another London mercer, Henry 
Brinklow, who had written a strongly Protestant pamphlet, The Complaint of 
Roderyck Mors. Shephen Vaughan himself, commenting on his second wife, 
paraphrased Proverbs 31 : "riches is the gift of God, but an honest woman that 
fearest God is above all riches."^ 

Although we know very little about the personal relationships and 
domestic atmosphere in the Vaughan household, young Anne was certainly 
heir to a rich cultural, political, and spiritual heritage. Whatever the religious 
disposition of Margaret Guinet, Stephen Vaughan complimented her as "witty 
and housewifely" and her position in the Queen's household would have both 
required and bestowed a certain social rank superior to that enjoyed by many 
merchant families.^ Anne's stepmother added to the household her own 
connections with the nonconformist community in London. Stephen Vaughan, 
too, was embroiled in protestant causes. In 1 530 he was engaged by Henry VIII 
to convince William Tyndale to return to England under safe conduct. 
Vaughan' s appreciation for Tyndale, however, exceeded that of the King's, 
and he was forced to abandon the attempt at reconciliation. Although he 
repudiated being either a Lutheran or "Tyndalin," yet he wrote to Cromwell in 
1531 that "I have the holy scripture, given to me by Christ's church, and that 
is a learning sufficient for me, infallible and taught by Christ."^ While Vaughan 
remained a loyal agent of Henry VIII, he retained his protestant sympathies, 
even petitioning Cromwell on behalf of the Merchant Adventurers to spare 
Tyndale' s life during his imprisonment for heresy in 1535-1536, "on the legal 
grounds that the arrest of Tyndale at the English House in Antwerp had violated 
the rights of immunity enjoyed by the company."^ Although further evidence 
of Vaughan' s direct involvement with radical protestantism is sketchy, his 
marriage to Margery Brinklow and later their employment for Anne of a tutor 
who was suspected of religious heresy, suggest a strong commitment to the 
new religion.^ Young Anne Vaughan, therefore, was apparently raised in a 
family with substantial fmancial and political connections and one which was 
sympathetically inclined not just toward protestantism but toward the more 
radical reformers. 

It is unclear to what extent her first husband, Henry Lok, another mercer 
whose father. Sir William-Locke, had also been part of the court of Henry VIII, 
participated in the London nonconformist community. Nevertheless, during 
the winter of 1552-1553, the Scottish reformer John Knox apparently stayed 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 49 

with the Loks and the family of Henry Lok' s half sister, Rose Hickman, before 
fleeing to the Continent upon the accession of Mary. On May 8, 1557, Anne, 
along with her two children and a maid, also arrived in Geneva where she 
stayed until early 1559. By June of that year she was back in London and 
reunited with her husband who died sometime before 1573. Probably in 1573 
Lok married Edward Bering, a younger preacher who was examined for his 
religious views by the Star Chamber in 1573 and silenced by Queen Eliza- 
beth's command in December of that same year. In a Christmas Eve letter to 
his brother, Dering reports gratefully that Anne had escaped detention, again 
suggesting her intimate involvement in the nonconformist community.'^ 
Dering died on June 26, 1576 of tuberculosis and by 1583 Lok had married 
Richard Prowse of Exeter, a man of considerable prominence. Christopher 
Goodman, a friend from Geneva and one of Knox's closest associates, 
preached a controversial sermon in Exeter in 1583 and CoUinson suggests that 
he probably came to the cathedral through the efforts of Anne Lok.^^ 

As this brief account suggests, it seems that Anne Lok, as an adult, 
enthusiastically embraced the religious community of her childhood and 
actively supported the protestant cause both in England and abroad. Her 
religious commitment is certainly pronounced in her published works which 
are devoted to promoting a vital spiritual life. Although the scholarship on her 
writings is still scanty, attention has recently been focused on three elements 
in the dedications and sonnets.'^ First, of course, is the insistently protestant 
tone of her work. Second is the rhetorical skill which she demonstrates. But, 
third is an emphasis on Lok' s frustration with her restricted role within the 
nonconformist community. On the basis of a comment in Lok' s dedication to 
the Countess of Warwick, namely that "great things by reason of my sex, I may 
not doo, and that which I may, I ought to doo," Margaret Hannay argues that 
Lok was clearly frustrated at the gender restrictions under which she lived and 
worked.'^ Hannay emphasizes the word may which she takes to have the force 
of "not permitted to" rather than "unable to" which would be conveyed by the 
word can. From this linguistic distinction, Hannay argues that Lok was 
frustrated by her limited role, and was, therefore, forced to contribute merely 
her small basket of stones rather than a more weighty offering. Furthermore, 
Hannay claims that this sentence indicates that writing was "the only political 
work" a protestant woman was permitted to do.'^ 

While it is certainly possible that Lok may have felt constrained by her 
gender, this sentence in the dedication is the only indication of her alleged 
frustration. Besides a lack of corroborating material, there exists a body of 

50 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

positive evidence which suggests that Lok enjoyed a prominent, active, and, 
indeed, relatively unrestricted role within the nonconformist community. This 
broader context, which has been largely overlooked, consists of the fourteen 
letters she received from John Knox.'^ The Knox-Lok correspondence is 
rendered somewhat problematic by the loss of all the original documents. 
Lok' s letters to Knox have not survived in any form, which means that we have 
only one side of their conversation. Knox's letters to Lok, however, are 
preserved in two seventeenth-century transcriptions. 

In 1583, John Field, apparently without permission, published a sermon 
by John Knox on Matthew 4 which he obtained from Lok.'^ In the dedicatory 
epistle addressed to "the vertuous and my very godly friend, Mrs. Anne Prouze 
of Exeter," Field urged her to share other Knoxian memorabilia with the 
church at large. Whether she succumbed to this plea and submitted her letters 
to Field or whether they later found their way to England through her son, 
Henry, or another source, is unknown. ^^ Whatever the transmission history, the 
first three letters are preserved in a 1603 manuscript transcription of Knox's 
writings which is presently in the library of Edinburgh University. 

The remaining eleven letters were apparently made available to David 
Calderwood (1575-1650) who transcribed them into his unpublished six 
volumes of manuscripts on the history of the Scottish Church. These manu- 
scripts include a mid-sized version which was used as the copy text for The 
History of the Kirk in Scotland published by the Wodrow Society in 1842-49; 
a longer, less ordered version; and a smaller compilation which was published 
in folio in 1 678. By the mid-nineteenth century, when David Laing came to edit 
the still standard Works of Knox, he was unable to locate any of the original 
letters to Lok. He reproduced the first three letters from the 1603 transcript but 
was forced to reconstruct the remaining letters from Calderwood' s manu- 
scripts. Although Laing insists that "Calderwood' s fidelity in transcribing the 
documents inserted in his History, has never been called in question," the 
nature of the transmission — from the original letters, to transcriptions and 
excerpts in Calderwood, to Laing' s collation — leaves the exact composition 
and date of any individual letter open to scrutiny. Nevertheless, I will be using 
the texts given by Laing as constituting the closest approximation to the 
originals. These letters demonstrate that Lok was a very active member of the 
nonconformist community and filled a prominent role within it.'* 

The first letter, apparently written from Geneva, offers a joint address "to 
Mistress Locke and Mistress Hickman," the women who had offered hospital- 
ity to Knox during a recent sojourn in London, and is full of Knox's warm 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 51 

memories of these two friends. ^^ They were, Knox says, especially kind to him, 
"with a speciall care over me, as the mother useth to be over hir naturall chyld," 
with the result that he, in return, took them into his confidence (Works, 4:220). 
In particular, he felt compelled "to be mair plane in suche matteris as efter hath 
cum to pass, then ever I was to any" (Works, 4:220). The "suche matteris" 
appear to be Knox's prediction that life in England for true Protestants would 
shortly become much more difficult, a prophecy fulfilled with the Marian 
persecution. Throughout this letter, Knox continues to remember and com- 
ment upon the close ties he sustained with both Lok and Hickman: they are 
most dear to him of all in London; with no one else he "was so familiar" (Works, 
4:220); he is assured of their "constant love and cair" (Works, 4:221). 

Indeed, this affection motivates the main thrust of the letter, which is to 
urge Lok and Hickman to leave London and join him in Geneva. Knox presses 
his request as he both reminds them of his prophecy of imminent persecution 
and warns them of the dangers of succumbing to idolatry if they remain in a 
country which is perilous to their spiritual health. At the same time, he 
recognizes the physical difficulties of such a move and remains confident that 
God can protect them in the midst of the wicked English generation just as He 
did Lot in Sodom. 

The most intriguing aspect of Knox's appeal is the way he addresses 
married women rather than their husbands. As he begins, Knox acknowledges 
that any move must be congruent with the wishes of the dominant male 
presence in the household so that they should flee the present idolatry only "by 
the consall and discretioun of those that God hath apoyntit to your heidis (your 
husbandis I meane)" (Works, 4:219). Having made this concession, however, 
Knox urges a more primary commitment, that of obedience to and trust in God. 
So, having just suggested that they follow the counsel of their husbands, Knox 
nevertheless encourages them to actively pursue an endeavour which it is not 
clear their "heads" will approve: "Dispyse not my consall, deir Sisteris, 
howbeit at this present it appeirs hardlie to be followit. God sail prepair ane 
easie way, sa that his godlie will be preferit unto yours" (Works, 4:219). By the 
end of the letter Knox is even more insistent. As he reminds them of the 
"horribill plagues" that come upon idolaters, Knox directs them to "call first 
for grace by Jesus to follow that whilk is acceptabill in his syght, and thairefter 
communicat with your faithfull husbandis" (Works, 4:221), which, while it 
does not exclude the husbands from decision m2iking, clearly subordinates 
them to a secondary role. The women are first to prepare themselves for 
imminent exile and then tell their husbands what they have decided to do.^° 

52 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

What is clear from this letter is that, for these protestant women and for 
their spiritual mentor, godliness, particularly that expression of godliness 
which involves an active rejection of idolatry, is the prime directive. All other 
considerations, including appropriate structures of authority (for instance, that 
husbands are the heads of their wives), are ultimately subordinate to this great 
requirement. It is also clear that godliness is gender inclusive. Although a 
nodding recognition is given to the special problems that women may encoun- 
ter in their pursuit of godliness, Knox obviously expects that Lok and Hickman 
will continue to oppose idolatry and actively pursue God's will, even if that 
means abandoning their comfortable homes. Moreover, he firmly expresses 
his confidence in their character: "God grant ye remane in the same mynd that 
then I found yow, whilk was, that ye litill regardit the rest of the warld, or yit 
the love of your contrey , in respect of that lyfe to cum; and that ye rather wald 
leif possessionis and freindis nor that ye suld admit idolâtrie" {Works, 4:220). 
Whatever restrictions may arise from being female, these are swallowed up in 
the larger demand to flee idolatry.^^ 

In the interim, Lok apparently wrote Knox a brief letter in which she 
mentioned some of her spiritual troubles, expressed her desire to see him again, 
and asked about the disposition of her Bible which was in the possession of a 
James Young. The remark about spiritual troubles raises the issue of the 
relationship between Protestant women and various reformers. On the basis of 
numerous letters, such as those between Elizabeth Bowes and Knox or 
between Edward Dering (Lok' s second husband) and Mary Hone wood, 
Collinson and others have suggested that, for many women, these intense 
personal exchanges took the place of the relationship in the old church between 
penitent and father confessor.^^ Rather condescendingly, Collinson also notes 
that "in a society of arranged marriages, in which the wives nevertheless had 
leisure to cultivate religious neuroses and sufficient freedom to move outside 
the household, it is not to be wondered at if an intimate friendship with some 
physician of the soul was not seldom the result."^^ Yet it seems quite inaccurate 
to characterize Lok' s friendship with Knox as overly dependent. If anything, 
the dependency, at least emotionally, seems to flow in the opposite direction. 
To be sure, any analysis is irreparably handicapped by the fact that we have 
only one side of this conversation. But, although Knox here, and in a later letter, 
responds to her spiritual troubles sympathetically, his comments are brief and 
directed toward encouraging her to trust what she already knows. In this 
second letter (but the first addressed to Lok alone) dated November 19, 1556, 
Knox reminds Lok to wrestle with God as Jacob did with the angel, and 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 53 

reassures her "that ye ar not destitut of his Halie Spreit, for it floweth and giveth 
witnes of it self in your grevous complaynt and emist prayer" (Works, 4:237). 
At the same time, Knox is most effusive in this letter about his affection 
for Lok and, indeed, his emotional dependence upon her: 

Deir Sister, yf I suld exprès the thrist and langoure whilk I haif had for your 
presence, I suld appeir to pass measure. To haif sene yow in prosperitie it wes 
to me, no dout, comfortabill, but now yf it sail pleas God that I suld sie yow 
in theis most dolorous dayis, my comfort suld be dubled, for in prosperitie 
in the middis of mirth, my hart quaikit for the sorrowis to cum; and sum tymis 
I sobbit, feiring what suld becum of yow. . . Yea, I weip and rejoise in 
remembrance of yow; but that wold evanische by the comfort of your 
presence, whilk I assure yow is so deir to me, that gif the charge of this litill 
flok heir [Knox was a minister in Geneva], gatherit together in Christis 
name, did not impeid me, my presence suld prevent my letter (Works, 

Such warmth might seem to imply an erotic if not an explicitly sexual 
relationship were it not for the fact that it is immediately followed by greetings 
from his mother-in-law and wife.^"* Apparently Lok responded to this letter 
indicating that the situation was somewhat improved in London and that her 
husband objected to their leaving for Geneva. 

The third letter from Knox to Lok, dated December 9, 1556 and accom- 
panied by the sermon on Matthew 4 which was later published in 1 583, is brief. 
The newly married Knox apologizes for his hurriedness due to the pressing 
cares of his "domesticall charge" to which he is unaccustomed, and "the 
administratioun of publick thingis aperteaning to the pure flok heir assemblit 
in Chrystis n^mc'' (Works, 4:239).^^ Nevertheless, Knox once again presses his 
request that Lok join him in Geneva, "the maist perfyt schoole of Chryst that 
ever was in the erth since the dayis of the Apostillis" although he recognizes 
that she is currently unable to do so (Works, 4:240-41). She is, he notes, 
impeded both "be impyre of your heid" and also by "so gud occasioun as God 
hath now offirit yow to remane whair ye ar," but he is still moved "to desyre 
your presence, yea, and the presence of all sic as unfeanedlie feir God" (Works, 

We do not know how Lok managed either to convince or to defy her 
husband and leave London, but the Livre des Anglois, a record of the English 
exiles in Geneva, notes that "Anne Locke, Harrie her sonne, and Anne her 
daughter, and Katherine her maide," arrived in Geneva May 8, 1557; within 
four days, "Anne, the daughter of Anne Locke, and of Harry Locke, her 

54 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

husband" is recorded as dead (9; 1 7). It is possible that Henry Lok, Sr. may have 
accompanied his family to the Continent, perhaps staying at Frankfurt while 
they travelled on to Geneva, but more likely he stayed in London during 
Mary's reign. ^^ 

Despite the personal cost, however, Lok remained at Geneva for the next 
1 8 months with the colony of exiled English, worshipping at the church where 
Knox was a minister and continuing her close connection with him. While we 
have no contemporary record of this period, Lok apparently used the time to 
translate the sermons of John Calvin which were published in 1560 and also 
to write the sonnet sequence on Psalm 5 1 which she appended to that volume. 

These initial three letters from Knox to Lok before her arrival in Geneva, 
however, reveal two important aspects of Anne Lok' s life and character. First, 
she obviously was an active member of the London reformational group that 
supported Edward VI and which later felt the brunt of Mary's persecution. 
Whatever we may not know of her, we must certainly admit that her religious 
commitment was intellectually, ethically and emotionally central to her being. 
Second, although Lok' s position in the Protestant community was clearly 
gendered in some respects — for instance, Knox refers to her husband as her 
head and also employs maternal, nurturing images to describe her in the first 
letter — in other ways her role appears unaffected by her sex. Both Knox and 
Lok clearly expected that her loyalty to God would take precedence over all 
other claims on her affection. This intense religious motivation, then, suggests 
that the primary category for analyzing Lok' s own writing should be spiritu- 
ality rather than gender. 

The correspondence between Knox and Lok resumed in 1559, after Knox 
had left Geneva on January 7 to return to Scotland, confirms Lok' s intense 
involvement in religious issues, including those of a public nature. Lok 
apparently wrote to Knox on February 7, 1559 concerning the appropriateness 
of sacraments administered according to the second edition of the Book of 
Common Prayer. Specifically, she wished Knox's advice on the issue of 
accompanying friends to church in order to witness baptisms or to participate 
in the Lord's Supper. The nonconformists in general, and Knox in particular, 
were considerably exercised over what they considered the remnants of papish 
superstition in the English liturgy which included, among other practices, the 
chanting of the Commandments and Creed and kneeling at communion. Since 
the English-speaking Genevan church used a simple liturgy designed by Knox 
himself, it is unlikely that Lok' s questions referred to Switzerland. Probably 
she wrote, either from Frankfurt regarding the situation there, or in anticipation 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 55 

of her return to England where she faced the choice of attending a compro- 
mised church or eschewing fellowship with an organized group of belie vers. ^^ 

In his response of April 6 1 559, Knox mentions that he did not receive her 
letter until March 1 7, nearly six weeks after she had sent it, probably to reassure 
her that he was not ignoring her concerns. Not surprisingly, given his previous 
encounters with the Prayer Book and his general animosity toward any form 
of idolatry, Knox strongly encourages Lok not to attend services where, he 
believes, ceremonies outweigh worship and the sacraments are unattended by 
preaching. What is of greatest interest, however, is the way in which he 
proceeds with his argument. First, Knox acknowledges that his opinions will 
seem "extreme and rigorous" (Works 6: 1 1). Such a frank admission, of course, 
carries the rhetorical effect of making dogmatic views seem more palatable by 
attributing them to an honestly self-aware speaker. Second, however, Knox 
appeals to Lok' s own wisdom and insight in making her decision. Although the 
force of his conclusion, "Now, Sister, if with good conscience yow may 
communicat with that which, in effect, is no sacrament, and if yow may honour 
him, as Christ's minister, who is but a bastard, yea Christ's plaine enemie als 
oft as he cometh there, to fmd favour of him, be judge yourself {Works 6: 14), 
may seem to mitigate the conditional nature of the "if (who after all would 
want to listen to an enemy of Christ?), the sentiment of self-determination is 
still present. And elsewhere he does, more generously, return the decision to 
her: "God grant yow his Holie Spirit rightlie to judge" {Works 6:14). Third, 
Knox assumes that Lok is earnestly seeking a godly solution to a difficult 
problem as she steers her way between the sins of omission (neglecting church 
attendance) and commission (supporting idolatry). Thus, he can frame his 
response as advice rather than command, although, in line with his triumphalist 
vision, he clearly thinks it inconceivable that two people who share the Spirit 
of God will disagree on what he believes is the clear instruction of Scripture. 

This letter, however, does not merely address Lok as a spiritual equal; it 
also seeks her approbation. The tone of the entire missive is clearly defensive, 
stemming perhaps from the accusation, implied in later letters, that some felt 
his return to Scotland was driven more by personal and national concerns than 
by concerns for the kingdom of God, but even more by the almost universal 
rejection of his tract, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous 
Regiment of Women. In light of the criticism he had recently encountered, 
Knox in this and subsequent letters is eager not merely to inform Lok on the 
progress of the Scottish reformation but also to enlist her approval and 
sympathy. Nowhere is this bid for support stronger than in his opening remarks 

56 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

where he expresses his dependency in a particularly open and vulnerable 
manner. Knox insists that he is loyal to his friends, but, more importantly, he 
gives the reason for this loyalty, namely that he needs them more, perhaps, than 
they need him: "Of nature I am churlish, and in conditions different from many: 
Yet one thing I ashame not to affirme, that familiaritie once throughlie 
contracted was never yet brocken on my default. The cause may be that I have 
rather need of all then that any hath need of me" {Works, 6: 11). 

There are at least two ways of viewing this letter in terms of understanding 
Lok's position within the community of nonconformists. On the one hand, 
Knox's firm words of advice and the enlisting of Lok within the circle of 
personal supporters might seem to confine her to a more private domestic 
sphere, particularly appropriate for women. ^^ On the other hand, the letter is 
surprisingly ungendered. Knox's theological advice is similar to that ad- 
dressed to men or to the church at lairge, and, as I have already noted, he does 
ultimately recommit the matter to her conscience. Furthermore, Knox's need 
for close associates extended to male as well as female comrades and, as 
subsequent letters bear out, he looked to Lok not just for emotional support but 
also for practical aid, including raising funds. 

The next extant letter, dated May 3, 1559, is short and simply assures his 
"dear Sister" that he has arrived in Edinburgh, that he has no time to 
communicate other news to her and that he needs her prayers as he prepares to 
do battle for the soul of Scotland. In light of his comment to "[a]dvertise my 
brother, Mr. Goodman, of my estate, as in my other letter sent unto yow from 
Diep I willed yow" (Works 6:21), we may assume that at least one letter, 
written either before or after April 6, is missing since in the April 6 letter he 
specifically omits greetings to particular individuals: "No man will I salute in 
commendation speciallie, although I bear good will to all that unfrainedlie 
professe Christ Jesus" (Works 6:14).^' 

The next letter, dated June 23, 1559, is an exuberant account of Knox's 
early adventures in Scotland. Writing that his dear Sister might "know the 
successe of Christ's Evangell" Knox is frequently the hero of his own tale and 
his triumphalist vision of God's will working its way in the world against 
idolatry is fully vindicated by the events in Edinburgh (Works 6:21-26).^° 

By this time Lok was apparently at home in London and Knox asks her to 
do a number of favors. She is to distribute his letter, both to London friends and 
to those still remaining in Geneva, thus squelching any slanders about the 
course of events in Scotland. He also asks her to contact Christopher Goodman 
and Knox's mother-in-law and wife, requesting them to proceed to Scotland. 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 57 

Finally, Knox commits to Lok the bearer of the letter, "a poore man unknowen 
in the countrie, to whome, I beseeche you, shew reasonable favour and kindnes 
tuiching his merchandise, and the just selling therof ' (Works 6:27). 

All of these requests, from the assumption that Lok can communicate with 
far-flung colleagues to Knox ' s confidence that she is in a position to help a poor 
merchant financially, reveal that Lok played an important role within the 
nonconformist community. The role of intermediary is confirmed in the next 
letter, written just a few days later which responds to her letter of June 16 and 
continues Knox's defense of the troubles in Scotland, reiterating that the 
reformers are not seeking civil war, but only "the reformatioun of religioun, 
and suppressing of idolâtrie" (Works 6:30).^^ Knox includes a presumably 
more detailed account of the events in an enclosed letter to Adam Haliday, 
which he says she should first open and read and then deliver. The briefness 
of his missive to her is explained by the sudden availability of a messenger who 
is eager to leave. 

Although these letters are mostly full of news about the Scottish rebellion, 
the personal element is not neglected. Sometime prior to September, Lok wrote 
to Knox at midnight about a spiritual battle. In his response on September 2, 
1559, Knox's advice is pointed and brief. She should continue her struggle, 
knowing that others are also engaged in the same battle and thus being "content 
to enter under mercie, to forsake your self, and to drinke of His fulnesse, in 
whome onlie consisteth the justice acceptable to his Father" (Works 6:79). 
While Knox admits that this may sound terse, "It may appeare to you that I 
speeke nothing to purpose" (Works 6:79), he implies that her spiritual character 
is such that a brief reminder will stir her on to the appropriate action: "Fight, 
and fruict sail succeid, albeit not such as we wold, yit such as sail witnesse that 
we are not voide of the spirit of the Lord Jesus, who onlie is our justice, 
sanctificatioun, and holines" (Works 6:79). In this letter he also updates Lok 
on the news from Scotland, indicating that a longer version had been sent to Mr. 
Wood who had been asked "to communicate the same with you, and with other 
brethrein of Geneva" (Works 6:78). He explains that the pressure of time 
prevents his writing individual letters about the progress of the reformation, 
but he remains interested in responding to her personal trials. 

This letter once again fails to distinguish between Lok and Knox's male 
friends on the basis of gender. It may be Lok, or Haliday or Wood who receives 
the first hand information about the progress of the reformation in Scotland. 
Each, however, is expected to be the purveyor of the good news to fellow 
believers in London and on the Continent. Second, Knox's terse military 

58 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

imagery in response to Lok*s spiritual struggles, suggesting a certain "Buck 
up" mentality, admits no quarter to female weakness or religious susceptibil- 
ity. Third, Knox feels free to criticize Lok and Wood equally for their failure 
to get Christopher Goodman safely to Scotland, although his disappointment 
does not prevent him from requiring their further assistance. "We laike 
labourers, alas! and yee and Mr. Wood have deceaved me, who according to 
my requeist and expectatioun, hath not advertised my brother, Mr. Gudman. 
. . I beseike you to inquire, and to cause him repaire to me with all diligence 
that is possible" (Works 6:78).32 

Lok, in the meantime, had written at least one letter to Knox which 
miscarried in delivery. Her March 23rd missive from Frankfurt, apparently 
again about the questions of church attendance since she, at the time, had not 
heard from him (cf. the April 6 letter from Diep which responded to her queried 
of February 7) did not reach him until September 13. She also sent her 
questions via a letter from his wife, which he received on September 20, 1559. 
To both requests, he answered in the letter of October 15, 1559, repeating his 
advice to abstain from church services since "we ought not to justifie with our 
presence such a mingle mangle as now is commaunded in your kirks" (Works 
6:83). Knox accepts Lok' s evaluation of the moral dilemma, namely that if she 
does not attend services she may be accused, or even be guilty, of sinful 
negligence but that if she does attend, she may unwittingly be promoting 
idolatry. He reassures her, however, that when, as in her case, the principle is 
clearly stated, she can refuse to attend with a clear conscience and without 
worrying about the effect of her testimony on others. This letter is somewhat 
more moderate than the April 6 missive, with Knox indicating that he cannot 
pronounce on each issue of the Book of Common Prayer as he has not examined 
the new edition. He confidently reassigns the problem to her own judgement 
and discretion, however, reminding her that "oft ye have heard of my mouth, 
that in the Lord' s actioun nothing ought to be used that the Lord Jesus hath not 
sanctified, nather by precept nor by practise" (Works 6:84). Furthermore, he 
wishes that she not merely remain unbound to the Book of Common Prayer, but 
also to his own words. Scripture and conscience are sufficient guides for her 
spiritual growth. In an amazingly strong and clear statement of self-determi- 
nation Knox writes: 

And, therefore, Sister, as I will not be a snare to your conscience, to bind me 
ather to my words, ahter yit to my worke, farther than I prove by evident 
Scripture, so darre I not counsell you to doe that thing which my self as no 
wise minded to doe. Stronger reasoun have I none to give unto you, nather 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 59 

yit to assure my owne conscinece, when I disassent from the multitude, than 
is the precept of my God, thus commanding not Israel onlie, but the whole 
kirks of the Gentiles. . . Nather my penne, nather yit my presence, can 
prescribe unto you how faire yee are addebted to expone your self to 
daungers for these imperfectiouns in religioun which ye cannot remédie; but 
yee, directing your heart to advance God's glorie, sail be instructed by his 
Holie Spirit how farre yee may condescend, and how farre ye are bound to 
abstaine {Works 6:84). 

Knox's admission that Lok may not be able to remedy every imperfection in 
the church is mirrored by his own sense of impending difficulties. Thus his 
triumphalism takes on a more chastened tone as he predicts a forthcoming 
plague on the afflicted flock and concludes that it is better to sigh and complain 
before God so that one is forced to run to Jesus than to succumb to "the opinioun 
of vertue that puffeth up our pride" {Works 6:85). It is possible to read in these 
sentiments a warning of the confidence Knox had expressed in June when he 
first returned to Scotland. 

Lok' s position as central clearing house and intermediary is again noted 
in this letter as Knox asks to be remembered to a number of people and also 
requests that she send on letters to Geneva (which he then adds in a postscript 
that he was unable to finish) as well as another letter "to Deepe, to William 
Guthrie, frome my Wife" {Works, 6:85). 

The letter of November 18, 1559 continues Knox's chastened mood. He 
again writes to counteract the rumors she may have heard and to assure his 
"deare Sister. . . that our espérance is yit good in our God" {Works 6:100). 
Apparently in a previous letter, not extant, he had written to her, or perhaps to 
a group of people including Lok, asking her to raise money for the cause in 
Scotland. Now he reiterates this request for money that will "keepe souldiours 
and our companie togither" {Works 6:101), adding that he trusts Lok to believe 
that he is suing on behalf of the gospel, not for his own or his country's sake: 
"I cannot weill write to anie other, becaus the actioun may seem to appertaine 
to my countrie onlie. But becaus I trust yee suspect me not of avarice, I am bold 
to say to you, that if we perishe in this our interprise, the limits of Londoun will 
be straiter than they are now, within few yeeres" {Works 6:101). This request 
reveals not only Knox's confidence in Lok' s personal friendship, but the 
evident position, both morally and financially, that she held among the London 
reformers. He was evidently confident that she could at least address the 
appropriate people for the not inconsiderable sums of money needed to pay 
soldiers and conduct the business of rebellion (or as Knox preferred to consider 

60 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

it, defense). Lok's position is further strengthened when we consider Knox's 
other letter of November 18 (Works 6:98-100). On the same day, Knox wrote 
to William Cecil asking him to send without further delay the money and men 
England had promised. During this pressing crisis, Knox took the time to write 
to the two people he thought could help him most — William Cecil, already 
on his way to becoming the most powerful man in England, and Anne Lok. In 
addition to the financial support which he hopes she can raise from other 
sources, he asks for more personal supplies for himself, namely Calvin's 
commentary on Isaiah and the revised Institutes or "anie other [books] that be 
new and profitable" adding that he "will provide that yee sail receave the prices 
upoun your advertisment" (Works 6:101). 

Lok's response must have been disappointing to Knox. On November 28 
she wrote that she had either been unable or unwilling to raise the necessary 
funds and exhorted him to wait on God' s providence and pray rather than fight. 
On December 2, she reported the alarm raised by a fire in a nearby lodging, 
repeated that neither those of high or low degree were willing to support the 
soldiers in Scotland, and asked him to respond to the doubts which she had 
raised in an earlier letter. Apparently, once again, letters had miscarried, as 
Knox apologises that she has "not receaved my Answere" and noted that his 
wife, much distracted by the difficulties in Scotland, is unable to find the "first 
extract" (presumably a copy) of his previous response (Works, 6:104). This 
letter sounds a discouraged note as Knox indicates that his current situation is 
worse than what he experienced as a French galley slave in 1547-49. Yet, at 
the same time, this letter is remarkable for its tone of mutuality as Knox both 
accepts Lok's rebuke and exhortation (although he still wishes for material 
assistance) and returns his attention to God as the only source of comfort in her 
own difficulties. Her advice, he admits is "godlie and truelie" (Works 6:103) 
and while he does not condemn her spiritual questioning, he does not think that 
she "greatlie need[s]" his answers, for "God [will] make your self participant 
of the same comfort which ye write unto me" (Works 6:103). 

Knox's only letter to Lok in 1560, written on February 4, recapitulates 
many of the themes of his earlier epistles. He writes "[l]est that sinister rumours 
should trouble you above measure, dear Sister" (Works 6:107) and gives 
somewhat more encouraging news of the events in Scotland: "We have had 
wonderful experience of God's mercifull providence; and, for my owne part, 
I were more than unthankfull, if I sould not confesse that God hath heard the 
sobs of my wretched heart, and hath not deceaved me of that little sparkle of 
hope which his Holy Spirit did kindle and foster in my heart" (Works 6: 108). 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 61 

He repeats his request for books and suggests that he will again ask her to raise 
money on his behalf: "I must be bold over your liberalitie not onlie in that [i.e., 
purchasing books], but in greater things as I sail need" {Works 6:108). He 
concludes by asking her to give a letter to Coverdale and to salute various 
acquaintances, including, for the first time in their correspondence, her 
husband (V^or/:5 6:108). 

After this letter, the correspondence sputters to a halt, the remaining two 
missives being both brief and tantalizing. Nineteen months after his previous 
letter, on October 2, 1561 , Knox wrote a brief note in which he thanks Lok for 
a "token" which she sent without a letter. Although Knox acknowledges some 
"impediment" which apparently prevented her writing, he cannot help but 
complain that "if yow understood the varietie of my tentations, I doubt not but 
yee would have written somewhat" (Works 6: 129). It is tempting to speculate 
what the impediment was and suggestions range from the romantic (Henry Lok 
forbid further correspondence), to the theological (Lok herself had begun to 
lose confidence in Knox, perhaps over the issue of spiritual versus physical 
warfare), to the mundane (the token was sent via a messenger who had to leave 
on a moment' s notice). There is, however, simply no evidence to explain either 
the impediment which prevented Lok' s writing in October or the drought of 
correspondence in 1560-61 following the nearly monthly epistles of 1559.^^ It 
is certainly possible that some letters have been lost, as is implied by Knox's 
comment in this letter that he had previously sent to Lok a copy of the Scottish 
Confession of Faith in unbound quires. Apparently, he had not heard whether or 
not she received this gift. Knox' s tone, however, is clearly discouraged as he writes 
of wanting to die and defends himself against implied charges of negligence: "If 
yow, or anie other thinke that I, or anie other preacher within this realme, may 
amend such enormiteis yee are deceaved; for we have discharged our consciences, 
but remédie there appeareth none, unless we would arme the hands of the people 
in whome abideth yitt some sparkes of God's feare" (Works 6:130). 

The final letter, dated May 1562, is probably only an extract as it does not 
include any of the expected salutations or concluding personal comments. As 
with most of the letters from Scotland, Knox writes so that Lok will not be 
troubled by any rumors she may hear and, as in the previous letter, the 
prevailing tone is discouragement: "God hath further humbled me since that 
day which men call Good Fryday, than ever I hath beene in my life" (Works 
6:140). The correspondence ends abruptly as Knox concludes that more 
trouble is doubtless brewing, "for suspicion once kindled, is not easie to be 
quenched" (Works 6:141). 

62 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

While these letters reveal a strong and mutual friendship between Knox 
and Lok, of equal interest is what they reveal about Lok herself and what 
insight they provide into her own writings. Although the materials are 
admittedly sparse, the portrait of Anne Lok which emerges is intriguing and 
complex. It seems clear from this correspondence that Lok was a strong 
woman, dedicated to the Protestant cause and actively loyal to it throughout her 
life. As John Field complimented her in 1583, she was "no young schoUer" in 
the school of Christ (A3r). Her intense devotion, as revealed by her dedicatory 
epistles and sonnet sequence and as suggested by the letters, was matched by 
a practical concern to promote the kingdom of Christ through such actions as 
travelling to Geneva and remaining there despite the death of her daughter, 
acting as an intermediary for Knox, attempting to raise funds for the reforma- 
tion of Scotland, and exhorting Knox on the importance of prayer and trust. 
There is no suggestion either that she disagreed with Knox's theology, which 
forbid women to rule in the home, church, or government, or that she allowed 
this prohibition to curtail her progress in the school of Christ. Nor can Lok' s 
role easily be dismissed as one restricted to a private, domestic sphere. Her 
financial help to the "poor merchant" who bore Knox's letter, and her attempts 
to raise money for the Scottish reformation, as well as the publication of her 
books, all point to a more active public role. 

It is particularly interesting to note that this strong portrait of Lok emerges 
from letters written by the protestant male most likely designated a misogynist. 
It is certainly true that Knox, and presumably Lok, believed firmly in a 
gendered hierarchical structure. As Elaine Beilin pointed out, 

to ask whether sixteenth-century women writers were feminists is to ask an 
anachronistic question. These writers, in keeping with their era, devoted 
themselves to regenerating the image of women in the familiar terms of their 
own culture, not imagining or advocating a different society in which all 
women might change their ordained feminine nature for equality with men 
or public power.^'* 

Yet, the evidence of the letters, whose rhetoric is remarkably ungendered, 
suggests that while hierarchical distinctions were recognized, they were not 
necessarily seen as coercive. It is doubtful that impermissibility necessarily led 
to frustration, particularly when, as in the case of Anne Lok, other data suggests 
that she maintained a strong role within her community and a mutual friendship 
with one of its key leaders. ^^ The sentence which troubles Hannay, "great 
things by reason of my sex, I may not doo, and that which I may, I ought to doo" 
can also be read with an emphasis on the final active verb, "that which I may. 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 63 

I ought to doo," as an expression of the active agency which Lok apparently 
pursued throughout her life.^^ 

Thus, read from within her own community of faith, an expression of 
"what I may not doo" can be seen as a simple recognition of difference, as part 
of the dominant modesty topos employed by both male and female writers, or 
as a graceful introduction to her own continuing effort to support the reformed 
movement in England. As Beilin points out, "Beyond the dedicatory expres- 
sions of humility common to writers of both sexes, Locke does not apologize 
for her literary efforts. Perhaps a conviction that she was a part of God's 
Providence overcame any doubts she may have felt as a female author."^^ 
Certainly Lok' s correspondence with Knox helps us understand not only her 
fervent religious commitment, but her prominent, active, and, indeed, unre- 
stricted role within the nonconformist community. 

Calvin College 

1 . Sermons of John Calvin, upon the Songe that Ezechias made after he had bene sicke, and 
afflicted by the hand of God, conteyned in the 38. Chapiter ofEsay (STC 4450 London, 
1560) includes a dedication to Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, the translation of four 
sermons from Isaiah 38, and the sonnet sequence. The sonnets are prefaced by the comment 
that Lok, or perhaps the printer, added them, "not as parcell of maister Caluines worke, but 
for that it well agreeth with the same argument, and was deliuered me by my frend with 
whom I knew I might be so bolde to vse «fe publishe it as pleased me." Earlier scholars such 
as Patrick CoUinson suggested that the "frend" was John Knox, but Margaret Hannay , based 
on the congruence of language between the dedication and the sonnets, has argued that the 
poems were written by Lok; see Patrick Collinson, Godly People: Essays on English 
Protestantism and Puritanism (London: Hambledon Press, 1983), p. 280, and Margaret P. 
Hannay, "'Unlock my lipps': the Miserere mei Deus of Anne Vaughan Lok and Mary 
Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke," in Jean R. Brink, éd.. Privileging Gender in Early 
Modern £ng /an J (Kirks ville, MO: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 1993, p. 21 . Other 
authorships are also possible, however, since the Marian exiles in Geneva included several 
pubHshed poets such as William Kethe and William Whittingham. Nevertheless, at this 
point it seems appropriate to include the sonnets within Lok' s oeuvre. Lok' s translation of 
Jean Taffm' s Of the Markes of the Children of God, and of their Comforts in Affliction (STC 
23652 London, 1 590) begins with a dedication to the Countess of Warwick, continues with 
the translation of Taffm' s Des Marques des enfants de Dieu et des consolations en leurs 
afflictions, and concludes with a 124 line poem entitled "The necessitie and benefite of 
affliction." The popularity of this book is attested to by the extant copies which were 
published in 1590, 1591, 1597, 1599, 1608, 1609, 1615 and 1624. 

2. That article, originally published in Studies in Church History 2 (1965): 258-72, has 
subsequently been republished in Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and 

64 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Puritanism, pp. 273-87. Collinson's account and W. C. Richardson's monograph on 
Stephen Vaughan provide the major secondary sources for Lok' s biography as summarized 
here: see W. C. Richardson, Stephen Vaughan, Financial Agent of Henry VIII. A Study of 
Financial Relations with the Low Countries (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University 
Studies, 1953). Brief notices are made of Lx)k in a number of surveys of sixteenth century 
women including D. M. Stenton's The English Woman in History (New York: Schocken 
Books, 1977), p. 136; Kathy Lynn Emerson's Wives and Daughters: The Women of 
Sixteenth Century England (Troy, NY: Whitson, 1984), pp. 230-31, and Elaine Beilin's 
Redeeming Eve: Woman Writers of the English Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton Univer- 
sity Press, 1987). Lewis Lupton, who also pubhshed a facsimile of the British Museum's 
copy of Sermons of John Calvin, includes information about Lok in his A History of the 
Geneva Bible (London: The Ohve Tree, 1972-1977), 2:9-41; 4: 19-24. Entries on Lok also 
appear in An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, ed. Paul Schlueter and June Schlueter 
(New York: Garland, 1988), p. 297, and in The Feminist Companion to Literature in 
English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present, ed. Virginia Blain, Patricia 
Clements and Isobel Grundy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990). 

3. W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., pp. 15, 20. 

4. Quoted in W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 21. 

5. Quoted in W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 22. 

6. W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 85, note 26, 

7. Quoted in W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 27. 

8. W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 34. 

9. W. C. Richardson, Op. cit., p. 85, note 27. 

10. Patrick Collinson, Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism, p. 285. 

12. Roland Greene in Post-Petrarchism: Origins and Innovations of the Western Lyric 
Sequence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), p. 129, and Michael R. G. Spiller 
in The Development of the Sonnet: An Introduction (London & New York: Routledge, 
1992), pp. 92-93) briefly note Lok' s contribution to the sonnet form. Susanne Woods ("The 
Body Penitent: A 1560 Calvinist Sonnet Sequence," ANQ, 5 [1992], 137-140) draws 
attention to the skilful deployment of poetic devices as well as Lok's "vigorous attention to 
the body" (p. 138) while Margaret Hannay discusses the similarities between Lok and Mary 
Sidney Herbert in "'Unlock my lipps'..." Less attention has been paid to the dedicatory 
epistles, although Hannay includes a brief discussion along with her transcription of the 
dedication to the Countess of Warwick in "Strengthning the walles of lerusalm: Anne 
Vaughan Lok's Dedication to the Countess of Warwick," AA^g, 5 (1992), 71-75. 

13. Margaret P. Hannay, "'Strengthning the walls of lerusalme'", p. 72. 

14. Margaret P. Hannay, '"Unlock my lipps'", p. 34. 

15. Knox biographers, of course, primarily view the letters for what they reveal about the 
reformer, but, incidently, they also conmient on the character of Anne Lok. Edwin Muir, true 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 65 

to his cranky spirit, demotes Lok to one of Knox's "circle of admiring women" {John Knox: 
Portrait of a Calvinist [London: Jonathan Cape, 1929], p. 48) and the "most maternal of all 
his women friends" (p. 95). Marjorie Bowen sees her as "emotional, dissatisfied, seeking 
in religion an outlet for an eager vanity, a love of drama, of excitement": The Life of John 
Knox (London: Watts & Co., 1940), p. 52. Jasper Ridley, however, regards Lok as "a very 
gifted and enterprising woman" whose 1590 translation of Taffm shows "traces of Knox's 
spirit" {John Knox [New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968], pp.247-48). From 
the side of the female correspondents, more attention has been paid to Elizabeth Bowes, 
Knox's mother-in-law than Lok, although Christine Newman and A. Daniel Frankforter do 
look briefly at the letters to Lok; see Christine M. Newman, "The Reformation and Elizabeth 
Bowes: A Study of a Sixteenth-Century Gentlewoman," in W. J. Sheils and Diana Wood, 
Women in the Church (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1 990), 307-324, and A. Daniel Frankforter, 
"Elizabeth Bowes and John Knox: A Woman and Reformation Theology," Church History, 
56 ( 1 987), 333-347. Collinson summarizes the content of the letters in his biographical essay 
on Lok but does not consider them in detail. 

16. A notable and Comfortable exposition ofM. lohn Knoxes, upon the Fourth of Matthew, 
concerning the tentations of Christ: First had in the publique Church, and then afterwards 
written for the comfort of certain private friends, but now published in print for the benefite 
of all thatfeare God (STC 1 5068 London, 1 583). 

17. David Laing suggests that the letters may have been returned to Scotland by one of the 
reformers, James Carmichael, John Davidson, or James Meville, who spent some time in 
exile in England during 1 584, or by Lok' s son, Henry Lok, during one of his visits to the court 
of James VI (John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, 6 vols. [Edinburgh: 
Thomas George Stevenson, 1846-1864], 6:7). 

1 8. Part of the difficulty of Lok scholarship in the past has been identifying the boundaries of 
her work. Her contemporaries doubtless associated the Anne Lok of the Knox letters, the 
A.L. of the 1560 translations, the Anne Prouze from whom Fields obtained the Matthew 4 
sermon and the A. Prowse who translated Of the markes as all being the same person. But, 
Laing was unsure of the relationship between Lok and Prowse, and as late as 1957, D. M. 
Stenton could write of Anne Prowse that "nothing seems to be known" about her: cf. D. M. 
Stenton, The English Woman in History (New York: Schocken Books, 1977), p. 1 36. Laing 
does tentatively suggest that Lok and Prowse may be the same person, although he does not 
strongly press the claim (Knox, Works, 4:239-40, footnote 3). 

19. Although the letter is undated, Laing assigns it to 1556 (Knox, Works, A.lll). 

20. Knox probably did not see any conflict in this final bit of advice. At least during this stage 
of his life, he embraced a triumphalist approach to the ethical life in which he assumed that, 
despite difficulties, the right would ultimately and inevitably prevail. Thus Knox confi- 
dently concludes that "than sail God, I dout not, conduct your futsteppis, and derect your 
consallis to his glorie: So be it" {Works, 4:221). 

21. Knox's rhetoric is not without its complications. He creates a psychological receptivity on 
the part of his listeners by presenting himself as a tortured soul in need of consolation and 
approval. At the same time, his rhetorical stance and allusions consistently align him with 
the exalted status of a biblical author. It is not that he explicitly claims divine authority for 

66 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

his pronouncements — in fact, he frequently distances his own life and words from the 
authoritative Word of God. But, in fact, the constant biblical echoes and the way in which 
he places his own ideas, requests and even requirements alongside the biblical injunctions 
gives them an authority which is heightened, rather than diminished, by his appeal to his 
reader's own integrity. If they are truly God's children, as he knows them to be, then they 
will be able to judge God's will appropriately. And that will, he implies, is none other than 
his own judgement. Nevertheless, despite this high view of his own opinions, Knox 
persistently shifts the burden of decision making back onto his female correspondents as he 
expresses his confidence in their own sanctified judgement. 

22. Collinson, p. 275; Robert Louis Stevenson, "John Knox and his Relations to Women," 
Macmillans Magazine, September and October 1875, reprinted in Familiar Studies of Men 
and Books: The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, III, 1906-1907, p. 269. 

23. Collinson, p. 276. Recently A. Daniel Frankforter has challenged the notion of spiritual 
hypochondria with regard to the Bowes-Knox correspondence, arguing that Bowes pressed 
Knox both spiritually and intellectually to consider the more difficult aspects of reformed 
doctrine, particularly the relationship of election and free will ("Elizabeth Bowes and John 
Knox," 333-347). 

24. Robert Louis Stevenson seems to have been the first to suggest that Lok was "the woman 
he loved best," although he did not imply any sexual impropriety in the relationship ("John 
Knox and his Relations to Women," p. 280). The effusive sentiment, however, is not 
confined to Lok or even to his other female correspondents. Knox could also be warmly 
affectionate towards his male colleagues, as when, for instance, he tells Thomas Upcher that 
"yf I can not ease any part of your greif ..yit I prais my God I can lament and mume with 
my brother tormentit" {Works 4:242). 

25. In the Calderwood manuscripts, the transcription at the head of the letter reads, 'To Mr. 
Locke" {Works 4:239, footnote 2). 

26. As difficult as it is to trace Anne Lok' s life, it is even more difficult to learn much about her 
first husband. The more generous scholars suggest that he was equally committed to the 
reformation cause, perhaps even journeying with Anne from London but then attending to his 
business interests elsewhere on the continent (Charles Huttar, "Anne Vaughan Locke," in An 
encyclopedia of British Women Writers, p. 287; Lord Eustace Percy, John Knox (London: 
Hodder and Stoughton, 1937), p. 246. Anne's return to Henry after the Genevan exile and her 
inscription to him on the flyleaf of her first book, "Henrici Lock ex dona Annae, uxoris suae, 
1559," indicates that the marriage remained intact despite the separation. Jasper Ridley insists 
that unlike Elizabeth Bowes, Knox's mother-in-law, who did break with her husband in order 
to follow her conscience, "Henry Locke was a Protestant, and though he felt unable to leave 
England himself, he obviously had no objection to the departure of his wife and fanuly" (p. 
247). Other scholars assume that Henry Lok was a nominal protestant at best, and that Anne 
essentially deserted him for her religious commitments (Collinson 280). 

27. Knox himself had been forced to leave Frankfurt on March 27, 1555 after a dispute with 
Richard Cox and others over the Book of Common Prayer (Ridley, p. 210). 

28. Susan Wabuda in "Shunamites and Nurses of the English Reformation: The activities of 
Mary Glover, Niece of Hugh Latimer," in Women in the Church, ed. W. J. Sheils and Diana 

Susan M. Felch / "Deir Sister" / 67 

Wood (Oxford: Blackwell, 1 990) argues the important role of women, often called "nurses," 
who provided hospitality for reformed preachers. 

29. It is possible that a letter written between January 7 and February 7 miscarried, since Knox 
may be responding in the April 6 letter to Lx)k's complaint that he has ignored her. That 
missing letter, containing information about his situation from the time of leaving Geneva 
to arriving in Diep, would then have been a general letter intended not only for Lx)k but for 
her fellow exiles in Geneva. In subsequent letters, as I shall note, general information about 
Knox's activities is assumed to be common property, to be shared by all those interested in 
his fate. 

30. For instance, the Bishop of St. Andrews who ordered Knox not to preach and threatened his 
life, is casually dismissed for "that boast did little affray me" and the learned doctors are "als 
dumbe as their idols" in the presence of the mighty reformer (Works 6:25). 

31. Laing gives the date as June 25 which Ridley corrects to June 29 (Works 6:30; Ridley, p. 

32. Goodman did eventually arrive in Scotland in August 1559 (Ridley, ibid.). 

33. Laing suggests, on the basis of an August 19, 1569 letter to an unknown correspondent in 
England, that Knox had simply been too depressed to continue his extensive letter writing. 
In that missive, Knox comments that in the last seven years he has "negligentlie pretermitted 
all office of humanitie toward you," explaining, but not excusing himself: "For albeit I have 
beene tossed with manie stormes, all the time before expressed, yit might I have gratified 
you and others faithfull, with some remembrance of my estate, if that this my churlish nature, 
for the most part oppressed with melancholic, had not stayed tongue and penne from doing 
of their duetie" (Knox, Wbr^, 6:566). 

34. Elaine Beilin. Redeeming Eve: Women Writers of the English Renaissance, p. xvii. 

35. As Hilda Smith argues, modem feminists, that is, "individuals who viewed women as a 
sociological group whose social and political position linked them together more surely that 
their physical or psychological natures" and who wanted to change the sexual balance of 
power did not appear until the second half of the seventeenth century: Reason 's Disciples: 
Seventeenth-Century English Feminists (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), p. 4. 

36. The problem here is the choice of a hermeneutic position. I would suggest that a broader 
consideration of cultural theory may help to generate a useful critical paradigm. In 1954, 
linguist Kenneth Pike coined the terms emic and etic to refer to the differences between an 
insider's view of language (or behaviour) and the external perspective assumed by an 
analyst. Although etic descriptions may be pragmatically useful particularly during the 
initial stages of analysis. Pike argued for the goal of emic description, an interior structuring 
which values idiosyncrasies, "irregularities" and "blurring of borders" without assigning a 
judgmental etic designation such as inconsistency. As Pike himself noted, "People of one 
nation (or class of society, etc.) may sometimes appear to one another to be 'illogical' or 
'stupid' or 'incomprehensible' simply because the observer is over a long period of time 
taking an alien standpoint from which to view their activity, instead of seeking to learn the 
emic patterns of overt and covert behaviour" (Language in relation to a Unified Theory of 
the Structure of Human Behavior, 2nd. ed. [The Hague: Mouton, 1971], p. 51). Since 1954, 

68 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

the terms emic and etic have become important in a number of disciplines (see Ernies and 
Etics: The Insider/Outsider Debate, edited by Thomas N. Headland, Kenneth L. Pike and 
Marvin Harris [Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1990]). The application to literary 
theory is, I think, apparent. Without denying the power that our own theoretical paradigms 
play in the interpretation of texts, we can, nevertheless, understand those paradigms merely 
as etic constructions. While we may not be able to re-inhabit the emic world of a past time 
and culture, we can nevertheless try to map its contours with the same descriptive respect 
that ethno-linguists and anthropologists extend to contemporary oral cultures. Such emic 
analysis, for instance, can at least describe the dynamic of hierarchal submission and 
spiritual equality which defined a viable Protestant culture without necessarily forcing those 
values into a more famihar etic pattern of ideology, subversion, and containment. Recent 
examinations of the relationship between concepts of gender hierarchy and gender equality 
in the sixteenth century have, in fact, seen these terms as necessarily opposed and, therefore, 
as requiring resolution. For instance, as Mary Beth Rose notes, "Although Protestant 
discourse raises. . . challenges to established hierarchies of gender and power in courtship 
and marriage, it rarely resolves or even acknowledges them; indeed it is clear that the 
authors, busily constructing a new ideology of private life, for the most part fail to recognize 
the potential conflicts they have articulated": "Where are the Mothers in Shakespeare? 
Options for Gender Representation in the English Renaissance," Shakespeare Quarterly, 42 
(1991), p. 298. 1 would suggest that another theoretical paradigm might see these concepts 
as complementary rather than contradictory. 

37. Beihn, p. 63. 

"A Plott to have his nose and 
eares cutt of: Schoppe as 
Seen by the Archbishop of 



Summary: That Caspar Schoppe, author of several stinging publications 
against James I, was brutally attacked in a Madrid street in 1614 has often 
been dismissed as the victim's larmoyant exaggeration of a mere licking, 
although Schoppe claimed that it was an attempt on his life. But there is a letter 
written from Madrid to the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking of the episode 
as a planned attempt to cut off Schoppe 's nose and ears. While some modem 
bibliographies still point to Schoppe as the author of Corona Regia (1615), 
possibly the most stinging satire ever written against King James, the attribu- 
tion now seems questionable. 

In 1990 I published an essay dealing with the veiled, ambiguous, and 
sometimes equivocating language in the political tension field between the 
Catholic league in its formation and King James I of England, who had 
aspirations to be the rallying point and leader of all European Protestants.^ My 
main focus was the early theologico-political career of Caspar Schoppe, his 
acknowledged and unacknowledged verbal attacks on the English King, and 
the responses he got, some of which were verbal, while others came allegedly 
as verberations. I say "allegedly" because there has been a long tradition of 
pooh-poohing the severe beating that he claimed to have received in a Madrid 
street at the behest of the English ambassador. 

There are three general areas where, stimulated by serendipitous finds, my 
thinking about the complex of problems I broached then has evolved: one 
relates to insights from a few only recently published or still unpublished 
letters by an English contemporary who was in most matters extraordinarily 
well informed, namely the Archbishop of Canterbury. Without entertaining 

Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme, XIX, 4 (1995) /69 

70 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

Ranke's illusionary aim of finding out "wie es wirklich gewesen," the 
perspective from the English center of intelligence (and possibly even of 
power) on certain events like the encounter in a Madrid street is instructive and 
was absent from my previous essay on Schoppe. The second is the search for 
the author of Corona Regia (in most library catalogues and bibliographies still 
ascribed to Schoppe), a search to my mind not entirely resolved, although the 
attribution to Schoppe now appears highly questionable. The third area 
concerns the larger context of political use of homophobia in Corona Regia, 
for this work remains to my knowledge the first one to charge the English King 
in print with preferences that were then called sodomitical and that we now call 

Another Perspective on the Beating in Madrid 

In my original essay, I had given a brief account of the big book (of 566 
pages) with which Schoppe in 161 1 started to wage his pro-Catholic campaign 
against the King. In it Schoppe had ridiculed James's pretensions at becoming 
the leading politician and theologian of the Reformed churches, that is, their 
"ecclesiasticus," by maliciously pointing at one of James's emissaries' failed 
attempts at punning in Latin. Rather than rendering his intended witty double 
meaning of the English sentence "An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie 
abroad for the good of his country," Henry Wotton, the English ambassador, 
had jotted down in a friendship album a Latin version that was neither punning 
nor witty: Legatus est Vir bonus, peregre missus ad mentiendum Reipub. 
causa. While the King reportedly was incensed by the gaffe of his legatus, the 
anecdote about the supposedly self-incriminating definition of an English 
ambassador is only a minor needling element of the frontal attack of Schoppe' s 
Ecclesiasticus — if the book was condemned and publicly burned by the 
Parliament of Paris (and also by the English Parliament), it was for Schoppe' s 
conception of kingship. 

The episode assumes, however, a pivotal role in Schoppe' s Legatus Latro. 
Hoc est: Definitio legati Calviniani (Ingolstadt, 1614). As indicated by the 
title, the word legatus here negatively instances an ideologeme of religio- 
political discourse, that of the truthful (lying, fictionalizing) purveyor of 
meanings. Legatus comes to denote the paid emissary of a duplicitous and 
nefarious power. For in this work, Schoppe reports again the failed attempt of 
Wotton, the legatus Calvinianus, to be witty, this time together with Wotton' s 
attempt at defending himself from Schoppe' s charge of duplicity. Trium- 

Winfried Schleiner / "A Plott to have his nose and eares cutt of ' / 71 

phantly Schoppe quotes Wotton's defense that the definition of the legatus as 
a liar is to some extent universal (catholica), since legatus can be understood 
a latere (from the side). To this punning justification, Schoppe now adds his 
own false etymology or pseudo figura etymologica of legatus latro {latro 
originally meant "mercenary"). In the rest of the book, Schoppe tells a rather 
exciting tale of how he became a victim of another ambassasor/mercenary or 
ambassador/gangster (which is also contained in latro) of the English King. He 
says that one night as he was staying in Madrid he was warned of impending 
danger because of the "deadly hate of the English ambassador" (de capitali 
odio Legati Anglicani, p. 28), and shortly afterwards, on March 21, 1614, was 
indeed waylaid by a couple of men hired by the English ambassador. Sir John 
Digby. They beat him and, as Schoppe puts it, he escaped with no worse than 
a minor wound in his side only because a pad of paper warded off the knife. 
Although Legatus Latro was published under a pseudonym, Schoppe by 
that publication not only risked triggering the wrath of the English authorities 
further but also publicized his beating. Was he well advised to make his 
"shame" public? It is true that originally I had only reactions from the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the event, but the second is in fact 
historicizing and speaks about response in the seventeenth century. Here they 

Es ist kein Zweifel, dass Scioppius ... die Erzahlung dieser Sache, die sich 
den 21sten Marz 1614 zutrug, nicht sollte vergrossert haben. Die ganze 
Sache endigte sich vermuthlich mit einigen Streichen, die das geringste 
waren, dass [sic] er verdiente; denn es scheint, dass er sich nicht viel daran 
gekehret habe.^ 

II se mit aussi à bafouer Jacques 1er, roi d'Angleterre, dans plusieurs libelles, 
qui sont peut-être les plus satiriques et les plus venimeux qui existent dans 
aucune langue; aussi ne se plaignit-on pas trop, lorsque, se trouvant en 1614 
à Madrid, il fut bâtonné par les gens de lord Digby, ambassadeur d' Angleterre.^ 

To these reactions, I now add that of George Abbot, Archbishop of 
Canterbury. On April 20, 1614, i.e. just barely a month after the incident in 
Madrid (of March 21), Abbot communicated to the royal agent William 
Trumbull in Brussels among other news the following: 

Sr. John Digby is here out of Spaine for a time, but before his comming over, 
there fell out a pritty accident. Scioppius, who formerly published a booke 
against the king, was at Madrid, and there wrote another villainous pamphlet, 
termed by him Holofernes, which he gave out in written copies being much 

72 / Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 

derogatory to the power of his majesty. The English Embassadour hearing 
of it, layd a plott to have his nose and eares cutt of, but they missed of on 
opportunity diverse times. At last a brother of sir Everard Digbies mett him 
and thinking to strike off his nose, hitt him onely a greate cutt on the face, 
and some of his company trodde him and spurned him, till he made shift to 
tumble into an entry. The Popes Nuntio there and the privy Counsell heard 
of it, said at first, that they could not protect him, his abuse was so vile to the 
kinge: yet some said, the example might not be suffered, and the rather 
because he is a counsellour to the Emperour. But since that time the 
Inquisition hath so faire prevayled, that a letter is come to the Spanish 
Embassadour here, that hee should complaine to our kinge: yet under hand 
here is a letter from the Duke of Lerma, that the other is but for forme, and 
no man should trouble himselfe about it.^ 

Although Abbot did not agree with King James on all matters of ecclesiastical 
policy and religious practice (the famous divorce case of the Earl of Essex and 
Lady Francis, from which the author of Corona Regia was to get some mileage, 
comes to mind), the Archbishop's letter is of course that of one insider to the 
English power structure to another insider, namely a paid agent. Every 
evaluative word to describe Schoppe's work (villainous, abuse) reveals 
Abbot's partiality, while his description of the attack as "pritty accident" 
shows both his amusement and a sense of gratification that the beating Schoppe 
received was the least punishment he deserved. At the same time the letter also 
indicates that the attackers went after Schoppe repeatedly. The end of the 
passage suggests that the Pope's nuntio only reluctantly protected Schoppe, 
the insulter of majesty ("his abuse was so vile to the Kinge") and that the 
diplomatic démarche through the Spanish ambassador is "but for forme." 
While extremely partial, Abbot's account confirms the views of the eight- 
eenth- and ninetenth-century historians quoted before in all but one respect: the 
insider report indicates that the attack